The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

December 8, 2012

Live Nativities set in Westmont, Windber


JOHNSTOWN — The Christmas story will come to life and people may see it from the comfort of their vehicles.

Drive-through live Nativities will be presented from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at Westmont United Methodist Church, 1428 Menoher Blvd., Westmont, and from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday and Dec. 15 at Windber Calvary United Methodist Church, 1800 Stockholm Ave., Windber.

Organizers of each event say the purpose of doing a live Nativity is to offer a gift of Christmas love to the community.

Rev. Kevin Rea, pastor at Westmont United Methodist, said his church’s drive-through will be held one night only.

The live Nativity will feature painted backgrounds, shepherds, wandering wise men and the manger scene.

“We also will have music, Scriptures and carolers handing out free cookies after people have viewed the Nativity,” Rea said.

The entire church is involved in preparation and presentation of the program, called “Operation Into the Fold.”

“We have about 50 people from both the church and the community helping with this portrayal of Christ’s birth,” Rea said.

He said the weather is often unpredictable in December, but runners are prepared to deliver hot beverages to the participants if needed.

“We also have a couple of fires that can be used to keep warm,” Rea said.

“We know what to expect since this is the third year our church has done this.”

No one taking part in the Nativity has a speaking part because large signs with Bible passages will tell the Christmas story.

People are working on preparing and refurbishing costumes, making cookies and assembling the stable and manger scene.

“Our costumes are not elaborate, but they offer a good representation of the time of Christ’s birth,” Rea said.

People will enter from Menoher Boulevard, where they will be greeted by shepherds tending their flocks and searching the night sky.

As motorists proceed, they can read large signs with Bible passages pertaining to the Christmas story.

“People will then encounter angels who will be proclaiming the good news about the Savior’s birth,” Rea said.

The next stop is the manger scene, where people will encounter Joseph, Mary and the Christ child.

As cars continue, passengers will come upon the wandering three wise men, who are in search of the Messiah.

In the final stage of the drive-through, people can hear seasonal music sung by a choir and enjoy holiday cookies baked by the church members.

“They will be packaged in a manner that people can enjoy the cookies later if they prefer,” Rea said. “People can just roll down their windows and get some cookies.”

No live animals will be used in the Nativity scene, but figures representing livestock will be used.

While the excursion through imaginary Bethlehem is free, Rea said people often insist on giving donations.

“I want to assure people that any money donated during the live Nativity will be earmarked for Hurricane Sandy relief,” he said. “We also are organizing a team to go to the East Coast in the spring to help with the recovery effort.”

Dee Fisher, event coordinator at Calvary United Methodist Church, said the Westmont display was the inspiration for the Windber church to give it a try.

 “The idea was presented to our pastor, John Snyder, and he supported it 100 percent.” Fisher said. “With this being our first year for doing it, we want as many people as possible involved whether they are church members or not.”

During Windber’s Nativity, a prophet will announce that the prophecy of a Messiah has come to pass.

Members of the church’s Rock Really Outrageous Christian Kids youth group will portray Mary, Joseph, the shepherds and an angel.

“We have a lady working on costumes and they will look authentic,” Fisher said.

“The stable also is under construction and nearly ready.”

Visitors are asked to enter the Nativity from the Stockholm Avenue entrance of the parking lot and depart by the Veil Avenue exit.

Visitors are encouraged to park in the rear lot and take time to enjoy other activities surrounding the Nativity.

“We will be singing Christmas carols and want people to feel free to sing along with us,” Fisher said. “Song sheets will be available.”

Organizers have taken steps to ensure that weather will not hinder the event.

“We will be serving light refreshments in the foyer of the church where tables and chairs will be set up for people to enjoy the activities,” Fisher said.

Messiah’s birth

What: “Operation Into the Fold,” drive-through live Nativity.

Where: Westmont United Methodist Church, 1428 Menoher Blvd.

When: 6 to 8 p.m. Friday.

Admission: Free.

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What: Drive-through living Nativity.

Where: Windber Calvary United Methodist Church, 1800 Stockholm Ave.

When:  6 to 8 p.m. Friday and Dec. 15.

Admission: Free.

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