By Amanda Boston
Kings Avenue Baptist Church of Brandon invites you and your family to travel back in time to Bethlehem and experience the true meaning of Christmas. Its annual Walk Thru Bethlehem event takes place nightly from Thursday, December 7 to Sunday, December 10.
For 31 years, Walk Thru Bethlehem, an interactive town of 20,000 square feet, is brought to life with a volunteer cast of actors and animals. The town’s realistic backdrop transports its visitors to the little town of Bethlehem where actors dramatize the story leading up to the birth of Jesus Christ.
The 30-minute journey immerses you into the throes of Jewish life—captivating the five senses and stirring the heart. From the shouts of angry Roman guards to the tender moment with baby Jesus, visitors will feel what it was like on the night of His birth. The journey concludes with proclamation of the good news as it depicts Christ’s death and resurrection.
“We have been working for several months to create an environment that will show our community the greatest gift that God has given to each of us in the birth of His son,” said Committee Chairperson Tracy Hoyt.
Walk Thru Bethlehem is a local tradition drawing in more than 6,000 people over the four-day span. On arrival, visitors are given a number designating a guide and an appointed tour time.
Due to its popularity, Hoyt noted, “We have long lines so visitors should arrive early, but we have an app that allows them to get a number and come back later with their entire group.”
The brand-new ‘Walk Thru Bethlehem’ app keeps you informed of your place in line, but you must first register at the event. The app is available for both Android and Apple devices.
If you wish to wait on the premises, Christmas carols will resonate throughout the sanctuary from local school bands and musical acts. Hoyt also mentioned that new kinds of entertainment are being introduced to this year’s lineup.
With a production of this magnitude and the weightiness of its message, Hoyt has asked for monetary donations from area businesses to keep the event going. Those who wish to donate can do so at the event or online through ‘easy tithe’ at www.kingsavenue.org.
For the first time, Kings Avenue is reaching out to the community for additional volunteers. On November 4, the committee held ‘Bethlehem University’ to train new recruits. For those who missed the training, opportunities to volunteer are still available.
Walk Thru Bethlehem is a free family event and is scheduled for December 7 from 6:30-9:30 p.m.; December 8 from 6:30-10 p.m.; December 9 from 4-10 p.m.; and December 10 from 4-9 p.m.
The church is located at 2602 S. Kings Ave. in Brandon. To volunteer, contact Tracy Hoyt at WTB2017KABC@gmail.com or the church at 685-3095. For more information, visit Facebook at Walk Thru Bethlehem.