Lubbock Nativity kicks off Christmas season with exhibits, music

The organizers of the Fifth Annual Lubbock Nativity say the experience helps them start the Christmas season off with spiritual ideas instead of commercial ones.

“It helps me focus my own mind” on the true meaning of Christmas, Lubbock Nativity Chair Marti Wallace said.

Liz Smart, one of the original organizers of the event, said she hopes the event inspires others to see the best in people, look for what they can do for others and give hope to the community.

“It’s kind of an overwhelming experience to me,” Smart said. “What a great way to start off the Christmas season.”

Organizers of the fifth annual Lubbock Nativity expect more than 500 nativity scenes to be on display from 1-9 p.m. Dec. 5-8 in the meeting house of the Church of Latter-Day Saints at 7014 Frankford Ave.

Last year, there were 532 nativity scenes in the traditional nativity room at the church, and Smart said the church expects just as many this year. Each of the nativity scenes are loaned to Lubbock Nativity for exhibit, with some coming from other countries.

Reactions from those who haven’t seen the plethora of nativity scenes before are fun for Wallace.

“They’ll come into the large room, where we have several nativities exhibited and trees decorated. And their jaws just drop,” Wallace said. She said most people expect to see a bunch of nativities just set up on tables.

“We really have them staged so they’re on different levels,” Wallace said. The decorators use fabric to drape the tables as well, making each display appear special and elegant, she said.

“We like to highlight each nativity to make it its own showcase,” Wallace said.

There are other rooms as well, including the children’s nativity room, where nativities that appeal to kids will be on exhibit, as well as crafts and activities for children. Families can dress up in costumes from the nativity scene and get a free picture in that room, Wallace said.

There is a room where Christmas creations from local artists are on exhibit, and an international nativity room where nativity scenes from other countries are featured. A story nativity room highlights scenes that have a story to be shared, such as family heirlooms or nativities created from unusual materials.

Youth group members will take turns in costume in the live nativity scene outside the church from 6-8:30 p.m. Dec. 5-7.

For Smart, one of the best parts of Lubbock Nativity is the musical entertainment going on each day as people see the exhibits.

There will be a Christmas concert from 7-8 p.m. each night from Dec. 5-7, with a Christmas sing-a-long scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 8. A Christmas devotional is scheduled for 7-8 p.m. on Dec. 8, featuring a live broadcast with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

But other performances ranging from soloists on marimba, piano and violin up to performances by The Sweet Adelines, Madi and the Boys, and the Frenship High School choir will be scheduled every half hour of each day starting Dec. 5.

“I think the music is a huge part of it for me,” Smart said.

Lubbock Nativity was started at a Mormon congregation in the Lubbock area and moved to the central temple area four years ago so more people could enjoy it, according to Smart. She was one of the original organizers when it became a bigger event four years ago.

Smart said the event was never meant to be a Mormon event, but a community event.

“We don’t promote it as an LDS event anymore. It’s an interfaith event,” Smart said. “I think that’s what the Christmas season is all about, all of us coming together.”

Smart said the committees for Lubbock Nativity are appointed in January and begin working in earnest in August. Those committees have members from churches of all different denominations throughout Lubbock, she said.

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