LAUREL HILL — What does it take to produce a Living Nativity program?

LAUREL HILL — What does it take to produce a Living Nativity program?

For Mary and Joseph, in the Bible, it was an arduous donkey ride over stony desert paths. For the folks at the Laurel Hill and Crestview Presbyterian churches, the logistics involve dozens of people, animals, props and equipment to assure the annual event runs smoothly.

The annual Living Nativity in Laurel Hill is 6-8 p.m. Dec. 8 at Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church, 8115 Fourth St. Parking is north of the church at the Laurel Hill School track. Admission is free, groups are welcome, and refreshments and fellowship will be provided. Call 682-2835 for information.

During the weeks leading up to Saturday’s Living Nativity, volunteers from both churches and their pastor, the Rev. Mark Broadhead, have been baking cookies, making cheeseballs, digging fire pits, changing the date on last year’s roadside signs, and making checklists and checking them twice. Over the summer, an electrician was summoned to rewire external electrical outlets to power decorative lights, floodlights and music sources during the event.

The Living Nativity takes a minimum of 12 actors, costumes, props, nearly three dozen behind-the-scenes volunteers, 450 luminaries, wood for six bonfires, a dozen or more bales of hay, one herd of goats, and a donkey named Patches.

Add in hundreds of miniature lights, a spotlight representing the Star of Bethlehem, and yards and yards of extension cords, including one heavy-duty line provided by Laurel Hill Mayor Joan Smith, who lives next door to the church.

Producing the annual event, which the church took over from the Presbytery of Florida’s Dogwood Acres camp outside Vernon, requires hundreds of hours of labor, Broadhead said. The churches follow a checklist and preparation schedule prepared from previous years’ experiences.

“I think we’re getting better at it,” he said. “Now we just pray for good weather, but I’m only in customer relations. I’m not in management.”

Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Brian Hughes at 850-682-6524 or Follow him on Twitter @cnbBrian.