The story remains the same, but the telling of it sometimes changes.
For the 13th annual Walk Through Bethlehem at the First Church of the Nazarene in Mayfield, a few new features have been added to the telling of the Nativity.
“There are some surprises,” Walk Through Bethlehem volunteer and church member Mike Cantrell coyly said. “There are some new additions we’re very pleased about. People will notice the new additions as soon as they walk in.”
Walk Through Bethlehem will open Wednesday, Dec. 4, and run through Sunday, Dec. 8, from 6-8 p.m. each evening. It takes place behind the church, located at 1200 West Broadway.
The event, which began in 2006, is in its third straight season after pausing during 2016 due to construction work of the neighboring West Kentucky Rural Electric Co-op campus.
Following that year, church members rebuilt the town and made it more realistic. Facades were redone in favor of more full, three-dimensional structures.
And with this re-enactment, it does take a village to create this village.
“Two years ago when we had to rebuild everything, we were working in March and April because we were cutting down trees and redoing all the structures,” Cantrell recalled. “This year, we met one or two Saturdays in May or June to do some work. By the end of August until now, we’re meeting every Saturday for four or five hours, either chopping wood for fires or making repairs to the structures or doing the new additions we have this year.
“It takes most of our church to put it on,” he added. “It’s a pretty amazing project to undertake.”
The event depicts the city of Bethlehem at the time of the birth of Jesus. The scenes are alive with merchants and dancers, shepherds and townspeople, as well as Roman guards on patrol. The characters interact with visitors and offer hints of something miraculous taking place in the town.
“We try to make it realistic with everyone in costumes and the new sets,” Cantrell said. “We try to interact with the kids. They get head coverings and little kids can go on the platform and dance.”
Children are also given coins as they enter the city to purchase items at various merchants’ tents and can even then barter with other merchants.
“It’s just a fun event for families,” Cantrell added. “We have people who come from Tennessee, Illinois and Missouri traveling to see it. After 13 years, a lot of people have heard about it, but there are others who haven’t. It’s kind of become a tradition.”
The walk is free and refreshments are offered inside the church’s fellowship hall. People can bring canned food items that will be donated to Need Line. Any monetary donations offered go back into expenses for the event.
Cantrell advised visitors to arrive at least one hour before closing to provide enough time to walk around and enjoy the experience. He also added that in the event of inclement weather, information would be shared on social media and through traditional media regarding any cancelations.