A journey back to Bethlehem

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Invercargill Nativity Scene organisers Deborah Downey (left) and Sharon Robbie, with Josiah Downey (9) in the manger at the Nativity Scene in Spey St.

PEOPLE of all ages have been celebrating reason for the season’ at the Nativity Scene Christmas.

Into its seventh year, co-organiser Deborah Downey said she and her team had set up the jumble of rooms behind the Manna Christian Bookshop on Spey St to transport people back more than 2000 years to Bethlehem.

Among the transformation was a Middle Eastern bazaar, Biblical characters, and a manger scene for children and their families, or other groups, to have their photographs taken.

“We wanted to put Christ back into Christmas and for people to know the true meaning of Christmas.”

Once through the doorway, children were able to take part in the activities to make sure they had plenty to keep them busy until their names were called for their photographic session.

However, “not everyone came to have a photograph taken. Some just came to have a look”, which was also fine, Mrs Downey said.

About 500 visitors took advantage of the various activities, including a dress-up area, colouring-in, craft and play areas, as well as some nativity-themed stories last year, with 98 photos also taken in the nativity for people to take home.

Mrs Downey said the festive season could be a busy and tiring time for many, especially parents.

The Nativity Scene was an opportunity for people, and especially parents and children, to visit, be immersed in the Christmas theme and take time out, she said.

“It’s a quiet, little corner in a busy world,” Mrs Downey said.

“It is an awesome atmosphere with friendly people.”

Co-organiser Sharon Robbie agreed, “it’s real relaxing here… calm and peaceful.

“It’s an opportunity for children and parents… the kids can play, colour-in or dress-up, while the parents get some time to chill out.”

Group bookings were welcomed, as well as members of the public who may prefer to pop in during opening hours. However, it was recommended large groups of people, such as those from kindergartens or rest homes, phone and made a booking.

Once the photographs were taken, photo packs for $5 and $10 would be ready to collect within one to two working days.

Nativity Scene Christmas Photos. Entry through the Manna Christian Bookshop, 90 Spey St. Saturday, December 14, 10am-4pm; Monday, December 16 to Friday, December 20, 10am-noon and 2pm-4pm; and Saturday, December 21, 10am-4pm.

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