By Michelle Caceres

Molly Bingham, Festival of the Nativity decorations chairperson, has a fondness for the annual family-friendly community event, now in its sixth year. Five years ago, she and her husband brought the nativity story to life.

The couple depicted Joseph and Mary while their newborn son, wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger, portrayed the Son of God.

Her son, now 5, is too big to play the baby Jesus so she volunteers in other ways.

“My job this year is to make sure that the event is decorated beautifully in honor of the Savior,” said Bingham. “This is one of the ways I show my appreciation for Him.”

The Festival of the Nativity, hosted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is located at 4806 Bell Shoals Rd. in Valrico. It will be held on Friday, December 4 from 2–4 p.m. for nativity viewing, video and refreshments only, and 6–9 p.m. as well as Saturday, December 5 from 6-9 p.m.

In addition to an outdoor live nativity complete with barnyard animals, the event features an array of nativity scenes, or crèche, hailing from many countries and artfully displayed amidst a roomful of twinkling light and Christmas trees.

Whether constructed of acrylic, bamboo, beads, brass coconut shell or cornhusk, the crèche, a three-dimensional representation of the birth of Jesus Christ, is one of the oldest and most treasured Christmas traditions around the world.

“This festival serves as a reminder of the importance of the birth of Jesus Christ our Savior and that if we turn to Him we can find meaning and purpose in our own lives,” said stake president Robert Howell.

In addition to the nativity displays, visitors will revel in the sounds of holiday music performed by local musicians and singers. A photographer will be on hand to take family portraits. Children can make a souvenir in the craft room and also dress up for photos in a manger scene as they re-enact the Holy Night. Refreshments will be served.

Admission is free to the public.

For more information about the Festival of the Nativity, visit www.brandonnativity.org.