GREENVILLE — It’s not everyday one gets a chance to see real-life camels, not to mention other livestock, while out Christmas shopping.
Friday-evening customers at Greenville Walmart, however, did just that, as the East Main Street Church of Christ conducted its annual live nativity between the front entrances of the retail store at 1501 Wagner Avenue.
In addition to Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, and shepherds, the event featured the aforementioned live camels, goats, a cow, a donkey and sheep. Passersby were able to walk up and pet on the furry creatures.
The church organizers also served free coffee, hot chocolate, cookies and candy to chilled onlookers.
A sizable number of people, both young and old, gathered to witness the event.
“We like to remind the community what Christmas is really about,” said East Main Pastor Jim Morehouse. “This is also a way we let people know that we care about them. But we enjoy it putting it on as much as the community enjoys coming out to see it.”
Morehouse said that the church has staged the live nativity annually but couldn’t recall exactly how many years it has taken place.
“Somewhere between 10 and 15 years,” he said. “We usually try to have it on the first Friday in December.”
The animals for the nativity are provided courtesy of the Idle Hour Ranch near Troy, Ohio, which houses a number of exotic animals. Morehouse expressed his thanks for their help, calling the ranch “good to work with.”
Though Friday night’s weather was cold and breezy with a few snowflakes, Morehouse and his group had no complaints.
“It’s much better than it was last year,” he said, noting the previous year’s event was cold and rainy. “I’ll take this weather over that.”
Altogether, about 20 volunteers from the church congregation took part in the event, from set-up to tear-down.
“First and foremost, this promotes Jesus Christ,” said Morehouse. “We know there’s a lot of other things going on this time of year, but we want to show people what Christmas is truly about. If people are looking for a church home, we’d love to have them come visit ours.”
For more about the East Main Street Church of Christ, 419 East Main Street in Greenville, visit the church’s website at www.goemcc.org or call 937-547-1557.