Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus will arrive in Red Deer next week for the 33rd annual live nativity scene.
The event will take place in the south parking lot of the Bower Chapel which is located across from Sunnybrook Farm.
Complete with a 28-member cast that includes shepherds, angels, kings, the annual pageant will be running from Dec. 16th – 18th at three separate times each evening – 7 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Attendees can expect music and narration, alongside brilliant back drops and a live indoor musical performance at the longstanding community tradition.
Local members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints produce the live Outdoor Nativity Pageant, which began in 1980.
Vesna Higham, assistant director of media relations for the Red Deer Alberta Stake Public Affairs for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, explained that the live nativity scene has had quite the history in Red Deer.
Originally starting with 11 cast members, the pageant has been performed in City Hall Park, Kin Canyon and Heritage Square over the years. This year it will be performed at the Bower Chapel.
“The highlight of the pageant has to be the live nature of the nativity and as it has grown over the years it has come to be more than just a nativity scene,” said Higham. “It kind of builds and expands every year and I think that one of the phenomena’s that we’ve noticed in relation to the expansion of the pageant is that the commercialism connected to Christmas has led to people wanting to come and see a traditional aspect of Christmas that has kind of been lost and this has allowed the pageant to grow.”
The live cast of local youth and adults has also come to include a real donkey named ‘Rodeo Queen’ as well as a “Real, bleating sheep,” explained Higham.
In the past, the event has come with some unusual occurrences that have left memorable impressions in the minds of attendees, including the year that the pageant was held in Kin Canyon and a curious doe decided she wanted to join the festivities as well as an occurrence in the late ‘90s when Mother Nature decided to bless the cast and crew with a surprise winter storm that led to the cancelling of nine performances.
This year’s free event will extend indoors into the Bower Building’s Cultural Hall where there will be a ‘Cozy Reader’s Corner’ for young children complete with hot chocolate and treats, as well as ‘Christmas Among the Crèches’ in which more than 200 nativity scenes from across the globe will be displayed.