The events begin Friday with the annual drive-thru nativity scene at Gray United Methodist Church. Roman guards will be letting visitors through the gates of the city of Bethlehem Dec. 7, 8, and 9 from 6 until 9 p.m.
The church is located at the corner of Gordon and Jefferson streets in Gray, just past the courthouse. Those wishing to view the live nativity should drive to the W.E. Knox Civic Center (the former Jones County High School building) and follow the traffic.
Coordinators of the event Carman Touchton, Richelle Hinson, and Todd Daniel said approximately 110 volunteers are involved in this year’s production, which includes crucifixion and resurrection scenes in addition to the story of Jesus’ birth.
A prayer tent is located at the end of the presentation staffed with experienced counselors to answer questions about the church or to pray with anyone with a spiritual need.
Parking for the prayer tent is available at the offices of Newberry and Newberry. Two new additions to this year’s production is a 120-foot wall in front of the city and a broadcast radio station playing Christmas music and to provide listeners with news from the Holy City.
Instructions of how to tune into the station will be posted at the entrance of the waiting area.
Gray’s Hometown Christmas begins at 4 p.m. Saturday and will also continue until 9 p.m. The event is sponsored by Gray Station Better Hometown and will take place on the streetscape in downtown Gray from The Meat Shoppe to the corner of Highway 11 and West Clinton Street.
The street will be blocked off and tents will be set up for local vendors in addition to the businesses located on the streetscape.
Arts from the Heart stained glass and Gadd’s Animal Doctors of Gray will be in tents as will several vendors from Five Oaks in Gray: Gigi’s Sugardolls featuring handmade children’s clothes; Beads and Brushstrokes with jewelry art; Dragonfly Photography; Social Butterfly with handmade scarves; and Taste of Home Pottery.
The office of Kelly Pittman-Swafford, CPA will feature the art of Wayne Hale and Tasefully Simples gourmet foods; Curves of Gray will have cider and cookies and will feature the music of Alecia Stringer on the keyboard.
Kema’s Hobby Bookstore is offering hot chocolate, coffee and cookies with guest comic book artist Jim Clark. Kema said she is also expecting guest appearances from several other local artists and authors.
Santa Claus will be housed in the future home of Treasures by the Tracks and Carry-Out Café, which will be opening in the spring and is located between Pittman-Swafford CPA and Wesley Music and Fine Arts Academy. The space of the future antique store and café will also be filled with vendors, including the Gray Garden Club selling cookbooks, coffee cups, note cards and depot prints; Janet Herndon with furniture and knickknacks; Speedy Signs offering embroidered Christmas stockings and T-shirts; and Vallie Miller with candy, arts and crafts. At least one Relay for Life Team will be selling mailbox toppers, wreaths, Christmas ribbons and bows.
First Franklin Financial of Gray will be giving away free merchandise, and carolers will begin at 5 p.m. in front of Wesley Music and Fine Arts Academy.
In addition to the vendors, GSBHT is collecting toys at the event to be distributed by the Jones County Department of Family and Children Services. Toys can be brought the night of the event or can be dropped off at Kema’s Hobby from now until Dec. 17. The Jones County American Legion is donating eight bicycles.
Toys need to be new, and books and puzzles will also be accepted.