By Pam Anderson
Each year in November, as fishing seasons close for most species and most charter and head-boats shut down for the winter, Capt. Anderson’s Marina crew begin building Bethlehem Christmas Village.
It all started in 2013, the year the Lady Anderson Dining Yacht left the area for the ‘cold country’ in New England. All the years before the Anderson family hosted numerous Christmas events on the Capt. Anderson Dinner Boat, then, the Lady Anderson.
Starting with an empty parking lot, the vision became clear as others in the community focused on the ‘Santa Claus’ Christmas, the ‘reason for the season’ needed to be shared.
With very willing crews from several of the boats, Bethlehem Christmas Village became a reality in December, 2013.
Every evening local school choirs perform their special holiday music before and after the Live Nativity is presented. Parents, grandparents and friends are all invited to see their students perform.
Each year, volunteers from the community, some from churches, some crew and some friends, come together to share the Biblical Christmas story from Luke 2:1-20.
As visitors to the Village enter, they are greeted at the Census Taker’s booth. As you will recall, the reason for Mary and Joseph’s travel to Bethlehem at that time was to comply with the law for all to return to their city of birth to be counted in the census.
The next stop is at the Tax Collector’s booth. Our Tax Collectors are different charities each night who collect toys, food and funding for their community outreach. This year, as usual, we will have charities collecting each night to assist with their support for needy local families. While donations are not required, they are certainly appreciated.
After visiting the stable and petting the animals, you will move into the vendor areas and then begin the storytellers. In each booth they will share part of the story of Jesus’ birth. Isaiah foretold the coming of Christ, the Messiah. Mary was told by the Angel Gabriel that she was carrying God’s Son. Elizabeth, her cousin, was five months pregnant with John the Baptist, who ‘jumped’ in her womb when Mary came to visit and shared the news. Joseph shares his own story of Angel Gabriel’s visit, explaining that Mary had been chosen by God to carry His child. The Innkeeper will tell of Mary and Joseph coming and finding only room in the stable for the young couple. The Angels herald the birth of Christ and thus share with the Shepherds. The Wise Men share having seen the bright star in the East and following it to find the King of Kings.
At each story booth, families will collect a page for a book that they will put together as they leave the village and collect a gift from local merchants.
Food and gift vendors are throughout the village providing opportunities to purchase gifts.
We are grateful that we live in a country where we can share this special event with the community. For more on the participating schools and charities, visit our website at www.CaptAndersonsMarina.com.
Merry Christmas to all!