ELWOOD, Ind. — Amid all the consumer hype of the holidays, it can sometimes be hard to hear the spiritual messages of the season. Sunday, Dec. 1, residents and visitors to Elwood can take a fun time out to focus on the biblical Christmas story. Elwood First United Methodist Church presents their 24th annual live nativity and parade that day.
“We get to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas,” said Heidi Elsbury, general chairman of the event. “It’s fun. It’s a great fellowship time.” The theme for this year’s event is drawn from Isaiah 9:6, “For Unto Us a Child is Born.”
Things kick off with a parade at 2:45 p.m. Look for characters like shepherds and kings, everyone dressed in the attire of the period, along with animals like camels, sheep and donkeys.
“There’s all different sorts of animals the kids have not seen before. It’s a really neat experience,” said Elsbury.
Folks turn out along the streets of the parade to see the unusual procession. The entourage will trek from South B Street down Anderson Street to the church, located at 1500 North A St.
Once they arrive at the church, the biblical characters and animals will recreate the manger scene until 6 p.m.
Inside the church, there’s also plenty going on. That’s where a continuous program of choral music, bell choirs, instrumental music and reading of the Christmas story happen. There’s also a big display of nativity sets.
“They’re all different,” said Elsbury. “They’ve been collected from all over the world.”
Hot chocolate and cookies will be available in the Fellowship Hall during the event.
Elwood First United Methodist Church has seen the event grow each year, last year drawing about 500 people. While members of the local and surrounding communities attend, some visitors come from a distance see the spectacle.
About 125 members of the church’s congregation participate in the event, and they welcome everyone to attend. The church is handicapped accessible.
“It’s a really great way to start off your advent season,” said Elsbury. “We just want everyone to come out.”
Later in the month, Maple Grove Church of God in Anderson will host their annual live nativity as well. On the weekend of Dec. 21 and 22, persons dressed in biblical costume portray characters from the story, accompanied by live animals.
“The story is told of the birth of the Christ child,” said Karen Hunter, of Maple Grove. The story is acted out by the characters in the evening outdoor setting, as the story is narrated by Dale Oldham.
“It is beautiful,” said Hunter.
Maple Grove has presented the live nativity for more than 30 years, and hundreds come to take part in the tradition. This year, for the first time, they are partnering with Main Street Church of God to create the event. The presentations start at 6:30 p.m., 7 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Maple Grove Church of God is located at 2729 E. 38th St.
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