COVID Christmas still has Drive-Thru Nativity

Nothing could be better to lift your spirits during a COVID Christmas than the story of the birth of Jesus.

So, even though it will be a little more subdued than usual due to restrictions, Rolling Bay Presbyterian Church will again be offering a Bethlehem Experience. It will be a “Nativity Drive-Thru, An advent experience tailored for the times.”

People can drive through the scene of the free family event anytime between 6-8 p.m. Dec. 11-12.

Hundreds of people normally attend annually. Church members wear costumes in the live nativity scene, which includes animals.

Molly Dunn of the church said the event will be scaled back a bit with no interaction with cars due to the coronavirus.

In the past, people in the community have been invited to dress in period costumes and join the nativity scene. Not this year.

“We hate having to turn people away in costume, but we’d hate for someone to get sick,” she said. “We have three nurses (in the congregation) thinking about COVID nonstop. They can’t sleep” out of concern for keeping people safe.

“We think we can pull it off, as long as people stay in their cars.”

There will be fewer characters, and those who have to be close together, such as Mary and Joseph, will be from the same family.

Baby Jesus will be safe; he’s vinyl.

Other actors will be safely social distanced apart.

“They have to stay right in their little spot. They can’t be mingling. We really can’t be joking around,” Dunn said.

She said so many things have been canceled, and so many people have been isolated for so long that the church wanted to put on the event to brighten everyone’s holiday.

“We have an older congregation, and many haven’t seen each other since March,” Dunn said. “Online is just not the same thing. So if they get the opportunity to see someone, even if it’s wearing an angel costume, that’s a nice thing.”

Dunn said she’s hoping for a good turnout since nothing much else is going on.

“No one’s having Christmas parties this year,” she said.

But they also understand if people don’t show up.

“We totally get it. People want to stick close to home,” she said, adding if people wear masks and keep their windows rolled up they should be safe.

Dunn said some in their own church feel uncomfortable about participating. They started the event in 2011.

“Some folks don’t want to commit to be a part of it” until they see how they feel when the event is closer, she said. “Everything will be spaced out, and everyone will be wearing masks on top of that.”

Because of the potential for bad weather, she said they won’t be setting up for the event until the last minute.

“We’re just hoping for something fun and to bring some kind of joy to people this year,” she said.

The church is located at 11042 Sunrise Dr. NE on Bainbridge Island. For more email bethlehemexperience