WOODLAWN — Joy Ranch’s live Nativity is a present to the community and a reminder of the reason for the Christmas season. The free, annual event is slated for Sat., Dec. 12 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
“We wanted to do something for the community,” said Development Director Brent Carrick.
He said originally, the Ranch’s holiday offering was a concert, but the live Nativity evolved as organizers wanted an event to more closely involve the community at the Ranch itself.
Scenes at this year’s drive-through Nativity will begin with a prophet announcing Christ’s birth, entering the gates of Bethlehem (complete with Roman soldiers asking if participants are present to be counted for taxation.) Participants will then witness the wise men enroute to visit the newborn king and will find out first hand at an inn keeper’s house about a young couple who were sent to the stable because there was no room in the inn.
Carrick said the volunteers, who are mostly made up of Joy Ranch children and staffers, will be in historical costume. The production draws upon its youthful re-enactors to all their own inherent charm as the young take on roles to share a timeless message with participants.
The drive through event at 813 Joy Ranch Road will also offer hot chocolate, coffee and homemade baked goods in the Ranch’s gym for participants. Christmas Carols will be sung by the Heritage Four Quartet. A collection of more than 200 Nativity scenes from around the world will also be on display for the public, courtesy of donor Leonard Kirtsch.
“It’s a very diverse collection and available for the public to view at no cost,” Carrick said. “One Christmas we had a concert and we were satisfied with its reception. We thought what can we do to get people to our campus? Someone suggested a live Nativity scene and we felt why not offer a whole series of scenes?”
Carrick said one great unspoken player in holiday get togethers, the weather, helped organizers to pair down the Nativity scene from three nights to one night only. He said about 120 cars visited last year, representing more than 300 persons who came to view the scenes.
“The community has been so good to support our trust and we’re delighted to give back,” said Carrick.
He said he feels one reason Joy Ranch has been so successful is the broad based support it has enjoyed through the years. The annual event also serves as a powerful testament to the community delivered by children who were once in crisis situations taking a turn to reach out, to share the good news of the gospels.
“The kids have a blast doing this. At first, they are nervous but as soon as they put on those costumes that goes away. We love doing this. It’s sharing and important parts of the heritage of Joy Ranch are Christmas and community. We are deeply rooted in the community and our Christian roots. We want to say we appreciate your support and Merry Christmas.”
People may obtain more information on the live Nativity at Joy Ranch by calling (276) 236-5578 or visit the Ranch website at www.joyranch.org. The mission of the Ranch is to provide a welcoming, safe, caring, and Christ-centered environment to meet the spiritual, physical, emotional, and social needs of children and their families in crisis.
David Broyles may be reached at 276-779-4013 or on Twitter@CarrollNewsDave.