Experience the sounds and smells of ancient Bethlehem at the time of Christ’s birth at English Lutheran Church in La Crosse this December.
Much of the church turns into the village and many of its members and others, become its residents for “The Bethlehem Event.” Cast and crew of around 300 re-create the city of David at the time Christ was born more than 2,000 years ago.
“You get the idea of what it was like the night of Christ’s birth,” says Paul Sannerud, who is coordinating the production that first ran in 1980 and has run nearly every four years since.
A 70’ x 14’ mural that includes city streets, a wash house and a peek outside the city walls serves as the backdrop for the indoor re-creation of Bethlehem. Goat herders — with live goats — goldsmiths, perfumers, cheesemakers, bakers and other townspeople take part in retelling what happened. Planners rely on historical accuracy and detail to make the re-creation of the first Christmas a memorable experience.
The Bethlehem Event runs: noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 16 and 17. Admission is free.
During the event, a marketplace will offer items crafted by modern-day artists of Bethlehem, Jerusalem and Gaza areas of Palestine. The store is an attempt to create awareness about the hardships artisans and retailers are facing currently in the Middle East. All profits will be given to support women, children and the elderly in Bethlehem.