Parkview Baptist has doubled its cast in this year’s living nativity, Dec. 16 to Dec. 18.
And there were, on Belle Terre Parkway, shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
It has become a drive-through tradition in Palm Coast, and it’s back this year: the fifth-annual Living Nativity at Parkview Baptist Church.
Changes this year include five new scenes, which depict more events from the life of Jesus. The cast has been doubled to about 120 people Thursday through Saturday, Dec. 16 to Dec. 18. There will be 40 live animals. And according to Pastor Greg Peters, who started the church 13 years ago, there could be an increase in attendance from about 3,000 last year to up to 5,000 people this year.
As in years past, there will be a Roman soldier on horseback to guard the way. But this year, there will be a census to go along with the soldier. People who enter the nativity will be given a card to fill out so the church can get a better count.
Rebekah Schill, administrative assistant at the church, said the event helps people imagine what it was like 2,000 years ago, in the Holy Land.
“Of course, we weren’t there, so having some kind of picture that we can see takes us back to what happened … and just remembering who he is and what he has done for us,” Schill said. “It’s a special time, at Christmas time, to remember.”
“It’s become a tradition for many families in the city — not just people from our church,” Peters said. “It’s an opportunity to provide a Christmas celebration for our city. It’s a way for families to come out and celebrate the Christmas season together.”
Wise Men Gift Exchange
In addition to the nativity, the church also sponsors the Wise Men Gift Exchange.
The morning of the last day of the nativity, 8 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Dec. 18, at Parkview Baptist Church, 5435 Belle Terre Parkway, families are invited to select three gifts for each minor child.
Donations of new or gently used toys, bikes, games, balls and wrapping supplies can be dropped off at Johnson Orthodontics, 25 Pine Cone Drive, Suite 1, and Gerling Travel, 301 S. Central Ave., Flagler Beach.
“We’ll help more than 100 families receive Christmas gifts,” Peters said. “We tear down our auditorium and turn it into a toy store.”
Last year, Peters said, the church helped about 120 families with Christmas. The gifts are also a way for people to remember the season.
“This Christmas, there is a reason to celebrate,” Peters said. “There is hope, and there is joy associated with Christmas. A lot of people are struggling right now to find something worth celebrating, due to our economy and unemployment and what’s going on with our world. So for us, even more so than normal, it’s something to celebrate. It’s something that restores hope in people, and lets us take our eyes off our own problems and see what Christmas is all about.”
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Fifth-annual Palm Coast Living Nativity
WHEN: 6 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Dec. 16 to Dec. 18
WHERE: Parkview Baptist Church, 5435 Belle Terre Parkway