Published Saturday, December 22, 2012
By MARIANNE THOMASSON
A “labor of love” by Paul and Penny Griffith – and a few hundred others – resulted in a total of 2,912 people seeing a drive-through live nativity at Cornerstone United Methodist Church at Thomas Crossroads the weekend of Dec. 7-9.
The nativity drew 900 cars over the three nights to the church near the intersection of Georgia Highways 34 and 154 and was declared an “overwhelming success” by the Griffiths, co-chairs of the event. They figured it would take 100 actors for each night and worried there wouldn’t be enough volunteers, but about 140 begged to participate each night.
Each vehicle load was given a CD that narrated the story of the nativity with each panel explained.
“The last thing I said to the actors before they went out was to ‘have a song in your heart and a smile on your face. If you are enjoying it, our guests will enjoy it too,’” Paul Griffith said.
The nativity was in the planning for about a year, Paul said, and his greatest triumph was “serving the true meaning of Christmas” to so many.
All but two of the costumes were made by hand and all of the props were done by volunteers. Paul spent the night in a motor home in the church parking lot to protect the site, but there was “not a bit of trouble.”
One toddler saw the angels on a platform illuminated with a black light and asked his mom, “Are those ghosts?”
Another toddler, age 3, was with a woman and they stopped briefly and the woman said the boy wanted to leave his gingerbread house for the baby Jesus. A box was offered and inside was a gingerbread house that looked like one made by a 3-year-old. The walls had collapsed, and it was something of a mess.
Sunday night the gingerbread house was placed at the foot of the manger.
There were few glitches in the production. The wind hit some of the screening between the scenes and traffic clogged a bit. But in general there will be only a little tweaking next year.
“I will ask for ideas from the church on changes for next year,” the project chairman said.