Live drive-through Nativity opens Friday

Downtown Gray will include Roman guards on horseback and the reappearance of the town of Bethlehem this weekend as Gray and Clinton United Methodist Church members present their live drive-through Nativity.

The first live Nativity was presented in 2002, and the production has continued each year thereafter. The Nativity has become the kickoff of the Christmas season in Gray and Jones County. 

In an email advertising the event, Tanner Shultz said the Nativity would take place Friday, Dec. 2, throuch Sunday, Dec. 4, from 6-9 each night and is staffed by the church and community members.

“The live Nativity is a great way to kick off the Christmas season. Roman guards on horseback, the town of Bethlehem, the Nativity, and the reason for the season are portrayed as you drive through with a free hot chocolate. We hope you will join us one of the evenings,” she said.

The depiction of the holy city of Bethlehem is located near the church at the corner of Gordon and Jefferson streets in Gray, just past the courthouse. 

Those wishing to view the Nativity should drive to the W.E. Knox Civic Center (the former Jones County High School building) and follow the signs to view the events of the first Christmas from the comfort of their vehicles. 

Over 100 volunteers are involved in the production each night. That number includes the actors and those behind the scenes. In addition to the Christmas story, two scenes included in the live Nativity are not normally associated with the Christmas story. The scenes of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection were added in 2005 to explain the meaning of his life. Jesus died a few miles from where he was born, and turning the corner from the manger scene to see the crucifixion creates powerful emotions.

Each year volunteers construct a 120-foot wall at the front of the city of Bethlehem to add to the realism of the experience. Viewers will stop at the entrance of the holy city and receive hot chocolate and an authentic Hebrew shekel to pay their taxes on the journey. 

Each car will be admitted through an entry gate to see Caesar Augustus issuing a decree that ‘all the world should be taxed.’ A tax collector inside the wall will take back the shekel, and a little harassment by the guards is part of setting the atmosphere for the next scene. The depiction takes spectators through scenes in Bethlehem to observe the huge difference between the wealthy and impoverished of the day. A fish market scene is a new addition this year.  

The tour continues through a basket and fruit stand, and to watch Joseph and a very pregnant Mary being turned away at the inn. 

Other scenes include shepherds in the field with a star above them, the angel proclaiming the virgin birth, and the story of the wise men.  The manger scene has infants of church members for the part of baby Jesus every night, usually with their parents playing Mary and Joseph.

The animals included in the scenes are goats, horses, sheep, donkeys and chickens. 

There is no charge to the public for visiting the live Nativity, and no donations are accepted during the viewing. 

-- Debbie Lurie-Smith |


The Jones County News

P.O. Box 1538
Gray, GA 31032
(478) 986-3929