The City of Bethlehem will once again be brought to life at Kings Avenue Baptist Church for its 35th annual Walk Thru Bethlehem (WTB) event. The church has been hosting this festive, Christmas tradition since 1986; it is an interactive, family-friendly holiday event that transports guests directly to the ancient City of Bethlehem as it existed during the time of Jesus’ birth. Guests will feel like they have been transported to the actual events of that time and experience the miracle of Christmas.
This free community event normally draws more than 6,000 visitors each year. Registered guests are transported during a 30-minute guided tour through authentic settings of the ancient City of Bethlehem, traversing through the town’s shops, smelling the aromas and hearing the sounds of the hustle and bustle of Bethlehem’s citizens.
Anyone wishing to attend this year will need to register in advance in order to visit the recently expanded city. Registration can be completed online at www.walkthrubethlehem.com. Chairman Tracy Hoyt is excited to bring back the event this year, as last year’s event was greatly modified due to COVID-19.
“We added an hour to each weekend day to allow for more visitors,” said Hoyt. “We have implemented COVID precautions such as limited seating areas, increased distancing between groups and actors and guests. We are very excited to bring it back this year after not having the city last year.”
Throughout the city are actors in time-period clothing, sets, scenery and animals. More than 225 volunteers each evening transform to be the townspeople of Bethlehem, populated by Roman Guards, weavers, blacksmiths, bakers, carpenters, potters and shepherds. The tour concludes with a visit to the manger with Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus.
Tour groups consist of 15 people leaving the chapel every five minutes. The tour lasts 45 minutes and ends with a petting zoo area, including a camel, various other animals and free hot chocolate.
Many families have made WTB part of their family’s holiday traditions for years, and Hoyt is excited to be able to bring the full event back to the community.
“My favorite part of the event is seeing the faces of our visitors and listening to their joy,” said Hoyt. “I love to hear how some families have made it a tradition and come every year, and what new things they discovered this time and then hearing from the first-timers about how exciting it was, and they can’t wait to share the event and come back again.”
Walk Thru Bethlehem takes place on Thursday, December 2 from 6:30-10 p.m., Friday, December 3 from 6:30-10 p.m., Saturday, December 4 from 3-10 p.m. and Sunday, December 5 from 3-10 p.m. To make a reservation, visit www.walkthrubethlehem.com or call the church at 684-9453. Kings Avenue Baptist Church is located at 2602 S Kings Ave. in Brandon.