FROM STAFF REPORTS
BURNET — What started as a few hanging sheets around Christmas in 1992 has grown into “the” Christmas event and continues to draw thousands of people from across the country.
“Last year, we had, maybe, up to 28,000 people come through,” said Betty Taber of First Baptist Church of Burnet. “That’s incredible when you consider it’s open only six nights.”
Main Street Bethlehem returns Dec. 5-7 and Dec. 12-14 from 6-9 p.m. each day. The event takes place just a block east of the church, located at 108 S. Vanderveer in Burnet. Since those early days of making the walls of old Bethlehem out of sheets, the project has expanded to include a permanent site that takes up a complete city block.
For those unfamiliar with the event, volunteers create an atmosphere of Bethlehem during the period of Jesus’ birth. The actors dress in period costumes and assume roles typical of that time such as merchants, soldiers, smiths and others.
The church brings in live animals to help make the experience even more realistic.
As people walk through it, they’ll find the actors truly acting out the parts of the Bethlehem residents or those there due to the census. Even the shepherds who have just heard the angels’ message run through the town asking people if they’ve seen the newborn child.
Visitors make their way through Main Street Bethlehem at their own pace. And while Bethlehem takes on the hustle and bustle of a town during that time, when people get to the manger, a sense of quiet and peace seems to fill the air.
Taber said that, in past years, people have come out of Main Street Bethlehem giving themselves over to God while others found it reaffirming and reflective.
Admission is free, but donations are accepted. The church and volunteers serve up cookies and hot chocolate as people exit the event.
As it is an outdoor show, organizers do cancel it in rainy weather.
Go to www.fbcburnet.org for more information.