From long-standing presentations by local congregations to one of Florida’s largest holiday pageants, live nativities add to the spirit of Christmas.
Billed as Florida’s largest living nativity, the two-night production by Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church in Ocala (https://gspcocala.com) is December 14-15.
The walk-thru or drive-thru celebration features biblical history from the Garden of Eden to the birth of Jesus. Featuring dozens of costumed volunteers, animals and a band, it hosts several thousand visitors each season.
“The event is put together each year with a committed core of volunteers,” says church member Michael Warren. “From the amazing special effects—like our 50-foot tower of flames—to the many animals, it’s quite a production.”
The production has taken place for more than 20 years and attracts people from across the state. Admission is free.
In Fort Walton Beach, members of First Baptist Church (www.fbcfwb.org) have staged a live nativity for several decades. This year’s event is December 16-21 at the church. A menagerie of animals—including goats, baby donkeys and camels—adds to the excitement.
A professional photographer donates his time to take family photos as keepsakes.
“This is our gift to the community—a way to be a good neighbor,” says Josh Manning, youth and young adult minister with the church. “It’s important to help people remember the reason we celebrate Christmas.”
Where Will You Go?
You don’t need to venture far to satisfy your wanderlust. Sometimes the best getaways are less than one hour away.
For all things related to Florida travel, check out the state’s official tourism website, www.VisitFlorida.com. It has a pull-down menu of travel deals throughout the year, with discounts, free meals with hotel stays and access to information about travel for people with disabilities.
In a state where tourism is a major economic driver, many cities and towns have local convention and visitors bureaus that specialize in local events, festivals and attractions. Go online and search your desired destination to find local events and adventures.
Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi also have statewide tourism marketing organizations that offer suggested itineraries and destinations.
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