Immaculate Conception elementary school students transformed the field outside their school into a little Bethlehem with a drive-thru living Nativity Dec. 8-9.
Monica Dickerson, Immaculate Conception’s development director, said the idea for a living Nativity first came up as she brainstormed with the staff for fundraising ideas. The preschool playground used by children 18 months through 4-year-olds is badly in need of resurfacing.
“The children ride tricycles in the playground, so the surface gets quite a workout,” Dickerson said, “and resurfacing is expensive.”
The school also would like to buy an outdoor digital sign with room for sponsors and opportunities for families to order digital birthday wishes and congratulations.
They decided holding a living Nativity on their school’s feast day would be a great way for 39 kindergarteners through fifth graders to experience the first Christmas outdoors and raise money for the school’s youngest students.
“Because we have a Christmas pageant every Christmas Eve in church, we had all the costumes we needed,” Dickerson said, “and volunteers built and painted our stable, props and equipment. We had Mary and Joseph, shepherds, Wise Men and elves. We decided to operate on a donation basis, and elves collected the contributions from the drivers.”
Every living Nativity needs some animals, and Daniel Fountain, the school’s maintenance supervisor, brought two goats from his small farm.
“Minnie and Baby Girl are milk goats,” Fountain said. “They’ve visited the school before and stayed in the school garden area all day.”
Fountain also has a donkey and a few heifers.
“It would have been great to have the donkey, too,” Dickerson said, “but Daniel said he might be hard to handle. We hope that next year he can work with the donkey in advance and bring him to our Nativity as well.”
Santa and Mrs. Claus were on hand for visits and photos, and some visitors parked in the nearby parking lot so they could visit Santa and see the Nativity close-up. The school choir, wearing brand new choir T-shirts, sang a religious medley, “Go Tell It on the Mountain” and “Feliz Navidad” between 5:30 and 6 p.m.
Kindergarten teacher Mindy Smith said her children, Ewing and Carly, were excited about reenacting the first Christmas. As Joseph, Ewing was charged with bringing the goat, who was on a leash, over to the manger to see the baby Jesus. Both goats got lots of attention from shepherds and wise men alike.
“We had a really good crowd on Thursday night,” Dickerson said, “with most families coming while the choir sang. We didn’t have very much time to prepare this year, but we publicized it on social media and got a good response. Next year we’re thinking about adding a hot cocoa bar since a lot of our guests walked over and visited with one another.”
About $1,500 was raised from the event, Dickerson said.
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