PUGWASH - The story of Christmas was seen live and up close over two nights here on Dec. 16.
Co-ordinated by the seven local churches and through the efforts of countless community volunteers, "Bethlehem Live" was a tremendous success here, according to Bert McWade, one of the organizers.
"It went fantastic," said McWade. "Over 1,000 people came on both nights, and it was really good because all seven churches co-operated."
The idea came about as a way to create a community event for the village, and to remind people of the true meaning of Christmas, i.e. what happened on that night more than 2,000 years ago.
"It must have been an awful strange night," he said. "Shepherds left their flocks, which was different, and everyone had to come to Bethlehem to register because Caesar wanted a census taken. There was a strange star in the sky, wily-looking strangers were walking around, and they could hear heavenly voices singing words they understood. It was a really strange night."
Nevertheless, McWade and a team of others, including Rev. Chris MacDormand of The Meeting Place and Rev. Meggin King of the United Church, set about recreating the scene on a section of Water Street. The Catholic church looked after the stable and the star, the Baptists handled the inn and gave out hot drinks, the Meeting Place took care of information and registration, the Seven-Day Adventists provided the choir, the Anglicans did music and sound, while the Presbyterians dressed up as commoners.
"Everybody did their part, which made it so special," McWade, who said he understands such co-operation of that magnitude had never happened between the local churches before.
A live prophet told visitors of the coming of Baby Jesus, while shepherds wandered the street with live sheep, in search of the baby. Other live animals on hand included a llama, donkey and a miniature horse. Meanwhile, a manger scene featured Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, the Three Kings and more.
The weather was beautiful for both nights, and people came from as far away as Souris, P.E.I., Sackville, N.B. and the Annapolis Valley.
Does the success of this year's event mean there will be another one next year?
"A lot of people are looking forward to next year," said McWade. "I hope it's going to happen."