BENSON — A few years ago, Charmayne Thomas found herself in Texas, scared and stressed for the sake of her husband, who had been diagnosed with cancer.
She’s back with a healthy husband in tow, and as a true and heartfelt thank you to her city for the support and prayers she received, she has a gift to give: a re-enactment of scenes from the time of the birth of Jesus. The diorama will be acted out Sunday, Dec. 19, in the back parking lot of her church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 381 N. Pomerene Road. The free drive-through show begins at 6 p.m. and is expected to go until about 7:30 p.m.
“I want everyone to feel that Christ-like love that I felt going through this whole (cancer) ordeal,” Thomas said. “That’s how we approach this. This is our gift to the community, and if you are looking to feel Christ’s spirit, this is a good place to try and feel that.”
Thomas isn’t doing this alone. With the help of 40 to 50 people, all members of the church, guests will be able to drive by in their cars to see the big event. The drive-by aspect is a nod to Covid-19. At one time you could see individual scenes inside the church, and each of the main actors would tell his or her story. Now the story of Jesus’ birth will unfold before you. Thomas said the action will be enhanced with music, and there will also be live animals and even a live angel that will be watching from on high.
“We’re still going all out,” she said. “It’s still as extravagant and as close to realistic as we can make it.”
There will even be a star.
“We’ll have a big star so that as you drive into Pomerene you can actually see the star from pretty much anywhere,” Thomas said.
One of the actors, Casey Hatch, has been participating since it began. In years past, she was one of the travelers who with her husband and eight children filled one of the inns, but this year she was promoted.
“I think that this year my husband and I are going to be Mary and Joseph,” Hatch said. “I feel like it is a big role to fill and maybe a little nostalgia because I am done having kids and none of my kids are babies anymore.”
No baby volunteered to play the infant Jesus so there will be a substitute, a synthetic stand-in.
Both Thomas and Hatch really want to present the spirit of Christmas.
“The spirit of Christmas is about Jesus being born,” Hatch said. “As Christians we should all come together in love and unity and this is a way to do that.”
“Come feel Christ’s spirit and the real meaning behind Christmas,” Thomas added.