Like the boy shepherd who serves as our logo, Streets of Bethlehem has been in the process of growing up. What began as only a dream in the mind of three individuals came to life in 1992. With the desire to share the gift of the true meaning of Christmas to the community, the idea for a live re-creation of that tiny village on that first Christmas night was born. Streets of Bethlehem was cared for and nourished by the loving hands of dedicated scriptwriters, skilled carpenters, gifted artists and set designers. But what makes Bethlehem special is the way it comes alive when hundreds of volunteers don period costumes and go back in time to "become" those village citizens once again.
Over the years there has been ongoing growth, adaptations and variations, but the story of the birth of our Savior has always, and will always remain the focal point. As we celebrate our 25th anniversary of Streets, we rejoice in the way God has guided and protected our efforts and made it into a cherished annual tradition for many. From only a few hundred visitors that first year, to thousands of travelers each night, God has truly made Streets a blessing. We look ahead to what God will continue to do through the dedicated volunteers who make Streets a reality each year.
Behind the Scenes
Did you know that production of this four day Christmas experience takes a full year to plan and implement? Behind the scenery, costumed citizens, and musicians; behind the animals, beggars, and kings, thousands of hours of work have already been completed.
Early each year, the Streets board meets to discuss the previous year's performances and make changes or build on that year's strengths. This board will meet throughout the rest of the year, planning out each detail of the presentation, including the street itself, parking, shuttles, advertisements, city requirements, security, and other important topics. During this time sets are painted, costumes are sewn, and volunteers are assigned roles.
Then in just a few short weeks the streets of a town of 2000 years ago appears in the parking lot of First Baptist Church. After months of planning, painting and building have passed, suddenly the set is ready. After each piece of the set is erected and ready for inhabitants the "street" is missing only one important component: dirt. The contemporary asphalt of the parking lot is generously littered with hay, just as one might expect to see in biblical Bethlehem. With the addition of lights for the aid of our late evening visitors, Bethlehem is ready for its residents.
Finally, in addition to the scenery and the hundreds of costumed performers that flood the streets, there are many who remain literally "behind the scenes." These people prepare meals for the performers, baby-sit for volunteers, warm, and help care for, baby "Jesus," run sound and lights, and take care of all the necessary tasks to keep the show up and running.