18-12-05 ARTS Live Nativity

Angels Charlotte Cox, left, and Isabella Price were in costume as the manger set went up Nov. 29.

The snow has fallen, the trees are illuminated and Christmas is just around the corner. With bazaars, special concert programs and general reverie, the Wood River Valley has plunged full-force into the holiday season. Amid the obligatory hustle and bustle of the month of December, it can be easy to lose sight of the concepts of peace and goodwill, but the upcoming Live Nativity in Hailey seeks to preserve and promote the true meaning of the season.

The 2018 Live Nativity will be held at the Life Church in Hailey on Sunday, Dec. 16. The event will commence at 5 p.m., with caroling beginning at 4:30 p.m.

Just over a week before the holiday, the pageant will provide a traditional re-enactment of the events of the first Christmas, featuring readings from the Bible, seasonal hymns and a large cast including the three Wise Men, shepherds, throngs of angels, the Archangel Gabriel, Mary, Joseph and, of course, the baby Jesus, this year portrayed by an actual, heavily swaddled local infant.

Always a major event during the Christmas season, the Live Nativity has attracted audiences of hundreds in the past, despite cold temperatures.

This year, to really liven up the scene, a wide array of animals will be employed. Several sheep and a donkey will join various shepherds and angels, but the big-ticket item this year is a trio of camels provided by Camels R Fun in Idaho Falls. Though working with animals can pose some unique challenges for any operation, these desert beasts—the very same that parade in the annual Wagon Days festival—will be accompanied by their owners, professional handlers adept at working with such creatures. The camels will process through the crowd along with the Magi, lending an enhanced sense of pomp and regality to the celebration.

Despite a limited budget, the production is anything but sparse. Handmade costumes, elaborate props and a full manger set will rival professional theater companies, and all simply due to the honest efforts of the dedicated people involved.

“This is a labor of love,” said Evelyn Albright, who is returning this year as director of the Nativity, a position she has held about a dozen times before.

Close to 100 people, both church members and others from the community, volunteered time and effort in some capacity, ensuring a momentous production to capture the true spirit of the season.

As this is an evening event in, as it were, the “bleak midwinter,” attendees are encouraged to bundle up and bring blankets. Hay bale seating will provide some buffer from the frozen earth, and there will be fire barrels scattered around to warm things up.

The best defense against bristling cold is often a rousing carol or two. Before the main event gets underway, carolers will liven up the scene with many familiar Christmas favorites, starting at 4:30 p.m. All are invited to join in the music, and properly set the tone for the production.

“It’s a family event that can be enjoyed by everyone,” Albright said.

All are welcome and admission is free. Homemade cookies and hot chocolate will also be provided. The Life Church is just across from the Albertsons store in Hailey. If the chaos of the year-end season is getting you down, if the pressures of gift-shopping are stressing you out, or if you simply need a reminder of what the holiday season is all about, you are invited to come to the Live Nativity, sing some carols, see some camels and properly embrace the Christmas spirit.

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