12/5/2012 6:00:00 AM Camels, donkeys and sheep part of Sandtown church's live Nativity
By STEVEN THOMAS Staff Reporter
Live camels, donkeys and sheep will once again be part of the Nativity trail at Sandtown United Methodist Church, which attracted over 3,000 visitors last year.
The live Christmas Nativity will be presented on Dec. 14 and 16 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Unlike a traditional Christmas Nativity with live actors, Sandtown will have a trail featuring seven different scenes telling the Christmas story.
Visitors will be able to drive up to each scene, remain in their vehicles and listen as the Christmas story is told.
The scenes, in order of appearance, are: a family reading the Christmas story, an Old Testament prophet on Jesus' birth, Mary receiving news of Jesus' birth, Mary and Joseph at the inn, the shepherds being visited by angels, the manger scene and the meeting with the wise men.
Sarah Hardy, co-coordinator of the event, said that new to this year would be an expanded inn scene.
"The inn will be in the middle of the 'town' with more characters and a marketplace," she said.
The Nativity features a cast of 40 characters played by 80 different actors.
Along with the actors, live animals provided by Hank Koehler of HK Exotics in Alberta, Ala. would be part of the event.
Hardy noted that the camels, donkeys and sheep would be returning with the possibility of other animals as well.
Visitors will enter near the church cemetery and travel down the trail, listening to a provided CD that tells the story of Christmas.
Hardy noted that the trail would be lighted with luminaries.
Organized asks that visitors not stop in the middle of the trail to listen.
"Depending on the traffic it should take less than 10 minutes to drive the entire trail," said Hardy.
The CDs will be picked up at the end of the trail.
Planning for this year's Nativity was easier, said Hardy, as most of the original actors will be returning.
"We called them up and most of them said 'yes,'" she said.
This will be the second year that Sandtown has done a live Nativity.
The church hosted a meeting in early September 2011 when its pastor, David Upshaw, suggested the Nativity.
Upshaw thought it would be a nice project for the church and everyone agreed.
"We were very pleased with last year's event," Hardy said. "It exceeded our expectations. Being a country church we didn't know what to expect but people enjoyed seeing it."
The church is at 11950 Mississippi 482 at Sandtown.