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Family nativity pageant draws crowds for 33 years

The Tuttle family puts on a nativity pageant in Cottonwood Heights Monday. The pageant has been part of their holiday celebration for 33 years. (Carissa Hutchinson, KSL-TV)


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COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — A family in Cottonwood Heights put on a nativity pageant for neighbors and strangers alike Monday, creating a scene that's become an annual tradition at their home for 33 years.

Boyd and Holly Tuttle say they did not plan to do the nativity every year when they started in 1988 in New York.

But today, they say, what started as a way to teach their children's friends what Christmas is all about has turned into, "it's not Christmas until we do the pageant" at their home.

Their own children, along with their friends, were the first to play the roles of Mary, Joseph, the shepherd, wisemen and angels. And from the beginning, they've brought in live animals to help create the stable scene.

"It was always a special year when we got to be Mary," said Paesha Redpath, one of the Tuttle's daughters.

"It's always sweet seeing the children portray parts of the scriptures that are so meaningful and important," another daughter, Olivia Tuttle, said.

The family even took the tradition with them to Japan, where they lived for five years.

Then, in 2009, the Tuttles moved to 1994 Forest Bend Drive in Cottonwood Heights, and soon recruited children in the neighborhood to fill the roles of Jesus' family, the shepherds, the wisemen, the angels and Romans.

They estimate a few hundred people come to watch every year.

"We've had a lot of interesting things happen, unexpected events unfold," Boyd said.

Friends and strangers wait to see a nativity pageant in Cottonwood Heights Monday. The Tuttle family estimates a few hundred people come to watch their pageant every year.
Friends and strangers wait to see a nativity pageant in Cottonwood Heights Monday. The Tuttle family estimates a few hundred people come to watch their pageant every year. (Photo: Carissa Hutchinson, KSL-TV)

Christmas 2020 was the first and only year the family has skipped the pageant, due to the pandemic.

But on Monday, the stable, platforms for the angels, and tents for the inn were back in the front yard of their home. Sheep munched on food nearby, a donkey waited patiently with the young Mary and Joseph, and a large camel laid in the snow.

"We kind of kept that simplicity that we started with 33 years ago," Boyd said.

The Tuttles didn't plan to keep the nativity going all these years, but it's now what makes Christmas Christmas. And their message year after year remains the same.

"Just to feel the Spirit," Holly said. "That light that will come and that we'll all feel again and again."

The nativity pageant is a one-night event each Christmas season. And the Tuttle family says it will be back again next year.

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Matt Rascon

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