An outdoor live nativity and indoor creche display will be held this month in Red Deer and Lacombe.
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the communities have been organizing and performing in the annual nativity pageant for several years.
The performance includes the use of live animals, a stable, costumed actors and an outdoor manger.
“The live animals are always a delight for children, but they can be challenging from a performance standpoint,” said Colette Burnham, who has overseen the Lacombe event for the past 18 years.
Last year, a goat wiggled its way out of the temporary corral built beside the manger just before the first performance. The goat took off into a local neighbourhood before organizers could track him down.
This year, a goat will not be part of the show.
“We were grateful that a neighbour brought our goat back last year. It was the first time we’ve had a goat in the pageant and it’s probably the last time, too,” Burnham said.
The 20-minute outdoor nativity pageant depicts the story of the birth of Christ, as told in the Book of Luke, with music, narration and acting.
“There was definitely no snow on the ground when Christ was born in Bethlehem, but the message is the same. The annual event is a chance to think about what Christ means to us and to celebrate his birth with members of all faiths in the community,” Burnham said.
A free indoor creche display, featuring hundreds of Christmas nativity sets from around the world, is also an important part of the event. Music, cookies and hot chocolate can be enjoyed inside the churches.
“The indoor creche display adds another element to the outdoor live nativity pageant,” said Jessica Earle, who is spearheading the Red Deer event with her husband, Dan Earle.
“It’s fascinating to see the way different cultures depict the nativity. Even though the nativity sets represent many different faiths, the central theme is the same,” Earle said.
In Red Deer, the performance will be held Dec. 17, 18 and 19 at 7, 7:30 and 8 p.m. at 8 Keast Way.
The event moves to Lacombe on Dec. 19, 20 and 21 for performances at 6:30, 7, 7:30 and 8 p.m. at 4049 63rd Ave.