Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Living Nativity

Location: Fellowship Baptist Church
1520 Hainesport Rd., Mt. Laurel, NJ
Bathrooms: Yes
Parking: Yes and FREE
Eating: Cookies, Hot Chocolate and Water...FREE
Attraction: 13 walk through scenes depicting the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus with cast members and live animals
Around the area: Johnson's Farm: Visit with Santa and Reindeer and Christmas Light Show Hayride
Cost: FREE
Dates: December  6,7, 13, 14, 19, 20, 21
Hours: 5pm to 8pm

For the last couple of years, I had seen the signs go up around Thanksgiving advertising "The Living Nativity" and started to hear buzz from several people that the elaborate production put on by volunteers of a church was worth a visit.  It wasn't until last year that my family and I finally ventured to see what all the fuss was about......and were amazed by what we found.

I wasn't really sure what to expect.  I thought it was going to be a walk through of scenes just showing the birth of Jesus. I thought we could go through at our own pace and be finished in about a half hour or so.  Boy, was I totally unprepared for what we found!

When you first arrive, you wait in a line to receive a letter of the alphabet. After receiving your letter, you are taken to a holding area for a short time.  Your next stop is to wait in the Church to listen to songs, and watch a short movie of the Creation story and a dramatic rendition of the story of Adam and Eve.  When that short show is over, everyone waits patiently for their letters to be flashed up on the wall of the Church.   

When your letter is displayed, you exit the Church area into the lobby where you are again wait in a  holding area until your guide for your group comes to lead you outside. That entire series of waiting took us nearly an hour! It didn't feel like an hour because you are constantly moving from one place to another, but still the wait can be long for little ones. Tip: Bring snacks for the kids while they are waiting.

Finally,you are lead by your guide outside with your group to 13 live action scenes. The scenes are kept in the dark until your group is settled and like magic the lights and recordings turn on and the actors and animals come alive!

I think one of our family's favorite scene is when the angels appear to the shepherds.  It is quite dramatic! And yes, all the animals are real!  This year, one of the sheep was quite hungry and stole the show by reaching up and over to eat the foliage from the trees!  Another favorite is entering the detailed scene of the bustling town of Bethlehem, complete with vendors, Roman soldiers, and cast members moving among your group, completely in character.  It really is something to see.  Below are some additional photos of our favorites. Walking through all the scenes took about 45 minutes and it is completely outdoors, so dress appropriately!

 
Following the  "The Living Nativity" your group is lead back indoors to enjoy hot chocolate, water, and cookies.  Information and fellow members of the Church are there to assist you and answer any questions you may have.  We always find the members to be very friendly, informative, and happy to assist! The entire show, including stopping for cookies, took my family nearly two hours, so set aside enough time.

It is amazing how many volunteers are involved in this production. The crowd control organization is amazing and very reminiscent of Disney! The costumes and set design are beautifully arranged and the technology of some of the scenes will leave you asking, "How did they do that?" In addition, the folks at the Fellowship Baptist Church are prepared, organized, and just darn happy to provide this show for the enormous number of people who come to see....for the amazing price of FREE! Their smiles become quite infectious.

The "Living Nativity" has become a family tradition in our house  It is a great way to keep things in perspective among all the craziness of the holiday and to remember the reason for the season!

Tips:
  • Arrive early! Even arriving at 4:30 be prepared to wait in a line to get into the Church. 
  • Expect to be there at least two hours
  • It is wheelchair and stroller accessible
  • You may want to eat an early dinner, especially for those with little ones or bring snacks
  • DRESS appropriately for the cold weather!
  • Bring a flashlight. It was dark with light coming from lanterns and dimly lit path, my little guy was a little afraid because he could see me.  The flashlight app on my phone came in handy!


Happy Holidays!



2 comments:

Sturgent said...

Wow, I wished I would have found your blog post alot sooner. i would have loved to go see that. Looks awesome.

Sid said...

It is happening again this year: December 7, 8, 14, 15,20, 21, 22 of 2013. Be sure to check the website after 2pm on the day of, if the weather is iffy. You can also call the church at 856-235-1697.

The waiting time is typically MUCH less the first two weekends. If the weather is nice, the third weekend can be a little crazy, especially Saturday. Friday night isn't so bad.

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