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Nativity to come alive in Williamsport

December 13, 1997

Nativity to come alive in Williamsport

By GUY FLETCHER

Staff Writer

Editor's note: The Herald-Mail Co. is highlighting 12 different individuals or groups who make a difference to others during the holiday season.

WILLIAMSPORT - Each year area residents by the hundreds are treated to a Christmas nativity scene of live actors, music and narration at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church.

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Children play Mary, Joseph and other parts from the biblical story of the birth of Jesus Christ, and live animals fill out the cast. There is no charge for attending the performances.

"It's really one of those gifts we give back to the community," said the Rev. Mark Sandell, pastor of the church on Donelson Drive near Virginia Avenue.

No one is sure exactly when the program began, but church officials said it dates back to the early 1960s. Since then it might have been canceled a year or two due to bad weather, but it has become a holiday tradition.

Early planning discussions about the program start as early as February each year, with the more serious work taking place after September. The effort includes recruiting the child actors, finding the animals that will participate and constructing the set.

In all, about 25 to 35 people are involved in the production.

"It's quite a job," said Ken Harbaugh, who, along with his wife Kitty, are producing the program for the third year.

The nativity scene will take place this year on Dec. 20 and Dec. 21, at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. each day.

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