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MIDWAY -- Thousands will head to Midway this weekend to experience one of the largest interfaith crèche exhibits in the country.
Last minute set-ups still require the delicate touch as volunteers place the familiar figures into the manger scenes. For 12 years, the interfaith crèche exhibit in Midway has grown in size and popularity. Now 900 Nativity sets will be part of the annual family tradition.
Becky Anderson, the crèche coordinator, unwrapped a metal piece, explaining, "The wise men come on elephants in this one."
Ninety nations are represented. The African nativity scenes draw a great deal of interest because of the materials their creators use--recycled soda cans, beads and wire. One grouping from Haiti was made from an oil drum. The crèche from the Caribbean Island of St. Martin shows the donkey embracing the Christ child.
Becky Anderson described the enthusiasm many feel, saying, "People have traveled near and far to get these, and they'll say, 'Oh, you're going there? Buy me a Nativity so I can display it at the crèche exhibit.' It's very dear to people's hearts here in Midway."
It takes an entire room for the 1,000 piece Italian village. The delicate, hand-painted figurines tell many stories from angels descending on a bustling town of Bethlehem to the sea coast tents of the magi.
All visitors can participate in a live nativity scene by choosing a costume, going over to the manger and having a photograph taken. Three sisters, retired ladies now, thought dressing as angels would be a wonderful Christmas memory.
Gloria McAllister of Pleasant Grove said, "We have a lot of fun together, and we'll look at that picture that he took of us and we'll laugh about it, because we know the story."
The exhibit brings people of many Christian denominations together, all of them united in purpose.
"We all look at the Savior as the Christ child," said Becky Anderson, "and celebrate the true meaning of Christmas."
They will welcome from 5,000 to 10,000 visitors. The crèche exhibit is free and part of Midway's 2010 Swiss Christmas, taking place December 3rd through the 5th.