GRAY -- Gray United Methodist Churchs three-day, drive-thru nativity drew 2,191 visitors in its 12th year.
Event coordinator Tammy Young said 2,191 people visited this year, an improvement over 2012s 2,032 visitors. Volunteers counted each person as they distributed hot cocoa to them.
This year, the event featured a new scene, the angel Gabriel visiting the Virgin Mary. The nativity event also included Roman guards, Caesar, Bethlehem residents and shopkeepers and the manger scene, while also forwarding ahead 33 years to Jesus on the cross and his resurrection.
More than 800 people visited Sunday night despite chilly weather. Volunteers instructed drivers to turn off their lights and follow the correct path from scene to scene. Set details included Caesars throne, his jewels, campfires as well as live horses, chickens and sheep.
Bethlehem and the different scenes took a week to set up, Young said, and required between 70 and 80 character volunteers. Other volunteers provided child care, cooked dinner in the church kitchen and helped to clean up the grounds Sunday night.
Young said community reaction has been positive.
Theres a little bit of something for everybody, she said. We even sometimes have people who dont go to the church here, and they want to know how they can be a part of it. And, of course, we welcome anybody to be a part of it. Its a community event, not just for our church.
We look forward to it every year, and we hope that it will continue to grow and that more and more people will come and hear the real story of Christmas, Young said.
To contact writer Andres David Lopez, call 744-4382.