Annual live nativity comes to life next week in Alpine

ALPINE – The annual live nativity will be held December 19th ,20th , and 21st between 6 and 6:30 p.m. at the stable area by Kokernot Lodge in Alpine. Sponsored by Michael’s Mountain Ministry and with the help of many community and area volunteers, the Nativity will begin each night’s performance at 7 p.m. This is the 30th year for the Nativity – the 26th year for it to be held in its present location. The Live Nativity had its humble beginnings as a “still scene” in front of the First Presbyterian Church here in Alpine in 1988. An angel on a ladder hidden behind a great plywood wall, and all the cast in costume frozen in time, almost literally some cold years, for viewers in their vehicles to pass by and be reminded of that Christmas long ago. As the production grew and moved in location, the stable took shape, rebuilt each year out of donated old weathered wood, with an assortment of loaned animals to add to the cast. The stable now is built of welded wire panels and stuffed with hay each year. Costumes were made and donated, a sound track evolved to give cues for the action, and a star was created. A light box was constructed by Dan Vrudny to make the job of lighting each scene easier, meaning someone didn’t have to un-plug and re-plug the electrical light cords as the scenes changed. About 18-20 years ago, the Texas Camel Corps from Valley Mills, Texas, became part of the Live Nativity. Under the expert handling of owner and operator, Doug Baum, several of the hump-backed steeds add majesty and amazement to the play. Appearing every other year, the camels give a sense of reality to the performance; after all, camels have been used for transportation for several thousand years in the Eastern world. At some point in time, the angels traded in their homemade cardboard wings for beautiful white Ostrich feather wings. Of course, with the West Texas wind, this can sometimes lead to interesting situations, but so far no angels have actually flown away. Hard-working students from High Frontier compose the Angel Choir whose well-practiced tunes set the tone for each evening’s performance. Then, other angels to form a heavenly host of winged beings announcing and welcoming the newborn babe join them. Several different donkeys or burros have played the part of the faithful steed for Mary, including Snowball, Everett, Patty, Chewy and Zeke, Mijo and currently, Chewbaca, owned by the Scott Wasserman family. Each equine had its own funny personality traits. For instance, one night Snowball’s lead came untied. He began to walk around a little. Then he walked into the stable, looked at the baby Jesus, and then walked back to his hay and munched away as the production came to an end. Everett was such a noisy one, loudly braying every little while, until it came to the performance. Then he was the quietest gentleman you ever saw, not making one sound during the whole event. So many people have been in the Live Nativity through the years, even from as far as England. Visitors to the area who saw the Nativity flyer in a local hotel came to join in the celebration. Adults who participated in the Nativity as a youngster are now bringing their children to be in it. Sometimes we have grandparents and their grandchildren perform in each night’s production. John the lamb became the “flock” for many years. Various sheep and goats have been borrowed and now Paul and Rachel Griebenow provide our little herd. An ominous-toned and reverberating gong, provided and played by Burt Compton of Marfa, now heralds the action at Herod’s palace. Present day scenes include Herod’s palace, the shepherds complete with their live flock and fire, Gabriel and Mary, the census reader guarded by the armed Roman soldier, Mary and Joseph at the inn, winged angels raising their hands in praise, the wise men and camels on their journey, and the finale which is quite beautiful and moving. Many volunteers help stuff hay in the stable, unload the costume trailer, organize the costumes, set up props, stretch out electric cords, set up lights, run errands, dress angels with wings, make cookies, serve refreshments afterwards to cast, crew and audience, and, most importantly, be in the performances. Please call Karen McGuire at 432-386-3071 if you would like to help or be in the live Nativity.