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Last year, 8,600 people passed through nativity scene, village

Grace Majer

The Bethlehem Walk offers a chance to “share in the wonder that is the Christmas story,” according to organizers.

Last year 8,631 people passed through the nativity scene and related village atmosphere.

“I don’t want to spill too much, it will still basically be the same, but we’re changing some things around,” said coordinator Gail Barbero, promising a familiar evening for those who have visited over the last 22 years, with some modern touches.

This year, for example, there will be the traditional carolling on two of the four nights, but on the other nights there will be a new take, with “some young folk involved,” she said teasingly, “so people will have to come twice.”

With real live barn animals, a bustling marketplace, more than 250 people in period costume demonstrating things like ancient baking and blacksmithing, the biblical village provides the complete experience.

“Thousands of volunteer hours go into it. It is time consuming, but the time is spread out among a large group of people,” said co-cordinator Barry Neilsen last year.

The Bethlehem walk takes place at the Parksville Fellowship Baptist Church, 550 Pym Street, Dec. 12-15, with doors open from 6 to 8:30 p.m. each night.

There is no charge, but they encourage cash or food donations to the Salvation Army Food Bank. In 2014, visitors contributed multiple van-loads of food and over $16,680 in donations.

To help with parking there will be a free shuttle starting at 5:30 p.m. each night from the Wembley Mall. For more information visit www.parksvillebaptist.org or call 250-248-6322.

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