Friday, December 18, 2009

Drive-Through Nativity to highlight Christmas in York

York-area residents and holiday visitors will have the opportunity to enjoy a special Christmas celebration this year as members of First Parish Church present a Drive-Through Nativity, The Journey To Bethlehem.
Staged as a living tableau with live actors portraying all the characters of the original Christmas story, the program will take place, rain or shine, on Saturday evening, Dec. 19, from 5 to 7 p.m., in the loop around Town Hall and the church in York Village. Admission will be free, and all are invited.
Dozens of volunteers have been working for several months, according to Janet and Larry Cassidy, co-chairs of the event, and many more are signed up to work as the date draws nearer. “The committees range from set design, props and costumes to carpentry, lighting and even live animals,” he said.
“There will be seven distinct sets,” Janet explained. “The first will be the annunciation of Mary by the angel Gabriel, which will be right behind Town Hall.
“Then there will follow a series of scenes including Caesar’s Palace, travelers on the road to Bethlehem, the wise men, the overcrowded inn, shepherds and angels in the field and, of course, the manger.” More than 70 church members will be portraying the authentically costumed characters in the nativity story, according to the Cassidys.
The audience will be able to view each scene from the comfort – and warmth – of their vehicles, entering from York Street and slowly traversing the loop around to the exit between the church and the Parish House.
The sets are being built, painted and decorated in Long Sands Shopping Center space donated by Ellen Baldwin. “We’re getting help from many corners,” said Larry. “Live animals from Triple G Farm in York, assistance from Eldredge Lumber, a beautiful three-dimensional camel created by artist Maiken Kunces of Thomaston, props – including a pair of golden lion statues – from Steve and Janet Erickson of York Beach…the list goes on and on. An anonymous donor is covering our out-of-pocket expenses. It’s just amazing.”
“We’re planning to make this an annual event,” Janet said. “We’re hoping we can make Christmas in York even more special than it already is. And, of course, we’re hoping that this event will serve to remind everyone of the true meaning of Christmas.”
“We’re not doing this for ourselves,” Larry added, “although the participants are certainly enthusiastic about the project. We’re doing it for the community. It’s a gift to our neighbors.”
Photo caption: Teams of designers, carpenters and painters have been working on the sets in space in Long Sands Shopping Center. Mike Lawlor (left) and Bill Dunn recently applied finishing touches to the framework of the throne room in Caesar’s Palace. (Per Jonas photo)