The community is invited to register to attend Kings Avenue Baptist Church’s 36th annual Walk Thru Bethlehem event.

Kings Avenue Baptist Church of Brandon invites the community to experience the true meaning of Christmas at its 36th annual Walk Thru Bethlehem (WTB) event. The city of Bethlehem will once again be brought to life at this nostalgic, free community event that has brought Christmas joy to countless families since it first began in 1986.

This interactive, family-friendly holiday experience transports guests to the ancient city of Bethlehem as it existed during the time of Jesus’ birth. Guests will feel immersed in the WTB experience, such as the town’s realistic backdrop, the authentically dressed townspeople, Roman guards, potters, shepherds and live animals. Throughout the 30-minute guided tour, visitors will see the sights, sounds and smells of Bethlehem. The tour concludes with a visit to the manger with Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus.

WTB Chairman Tracy Hoyt is thankful for the over 350 volunteers from multiple churches and organizations that help make this event a success.

“American Heritage Girls are a huge help in both setting up, acting and cleaning up after the event,” said Hoyt. “We have volunteers from all over Florida and other states that come just to help share the story.”

Destin Van Den Bogaert is a Durant High School student and WTB youth volunteer that is looking forward to volunteering again this year. “I help because it’s the right thing to do to show everyone the amazing God that we believe in,” said Van Den Bogaert.

George Mathis is one of the WTB volunteers that helps build the city scenes and acts as a tour guide on all four days of the event.

“The reason why I do Walk Thru Bethlehem is the fellowship and team work to put on such a true extraordinary story about the very first Christmas,” said Mathis. “We also want to keep the tradition going in so many families, and this is the only way a lot of people get to hear about Jesus.”

This free event drew more than 3,000 visitors last year, which marked the first year for the reservation system to streamline the tours. Reservations can be made by visiting Walk-up spots are available on a first-come, first-serve basis, but registration can guarantee a tour.

Walk Thru Bethlehem takes place on Thursday, December 8 from 6:30-10 p.m.; Friday, December 9 from 6:30-10 p.m.; Saturday, December 10 from 3-10 p.m.; and Sunday, December 11 from 3-10 p.m. For more information, call 813-684-9453. Kings Avenue Baptist Church is located at 2602 S. Kings Ave. in Brandon.

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Kelly Wise Valdes
Kelly Wise Valdes has been writing for the Osprey Observer since 2008. She graduated in 1989 from Florida Southern College with a B.S. in Communications and enjoys writing and traveling. She currently resides in northern Hillsborough County with her husband, David. When not traveling and writing, Kelly and her husband enjoy spending time with their five grown children (as well as their grandchildren) that still keep them very busy.