Live Nativity in Jemison a tradition for family and community

Published 2:23 pm Thursday, December 18, 2014

For Laurel Lee Adams, bringing alive the story of the Nativity has become a tradition for both her family and the community.

“My parents, Phil and June Simms, started the Live Nativity in the 1950s,” Adams said. “The Nativity was very important to them. They wanted to give people the chance to see something that would have been very close to the real thing with the hay, the manger and the animals.”

Each year, in the rain, cold, or warm temperatures, Adams’ family leads a group of volunteers, including animals, to allow the community to experience the first Christmas night scene “as close as possible.”

“We have authentic costumes for everyone to wear, and each year the animals change depending on which ones we can borrow for that night,” Adams said. “It is always pretty fun with the animals because they do change each year. The one animal I don’t think we have ever had is a cow.”

Although the Nativity originally started near Rocky Mount United Methodist Church, the Nativity moved in 1967, where it has stayed at the same location, and will be held Dec. 22 from 7-9 p.m. at Christ Independent Church in Jemison, near Smokey Hollow Restaurant.

This year, those interested in viewing the Nativity scene can either view it from a car or by foot, and church members at Christ Independent Church will serve refreshments including free coffee/hot chocolate and cookies.

“Each year is different from the last, but we still try to make it a tradition for the community,” Adams said. “There have been some years where people will come and sit in their car for 30 minutes.”

A complete list of animals for Dec. 22 has not been finalized, but Adams said there will be sheep and goats with the possibility of some horses and a couple of dogs.

Adams said her parents started the Live Nativity more than 50 years ago when they were dating and wanted something to do with the youth at their church.

“My parents have always loved doing this,” Adams said. “When they first started having it, they would play the roles of Mary and Joseph every year. As the years have gone on, they will play different characters depending on the size of the group each year.”

For many years, Adams said it was a family tradition to play a character in the Live Nativity.

“Me and my siblings were always in it,” Adams said. “Now that we are grown, we have kids that are in it, and my dad still comes and puts the lights up. It has definitely been a family tradition for us.”

With at least 10-15 volunteers of all ages dressed in Biblical costumes surrounded by an array of animals, Adams said each year comes with a new set of memories.

“We have had some funny things happen throughout the years for sure,” Adams said. “There was a year where it was deathly cold, and it was so hard for us to sit outside. My dad decided to get some heaters brought out to keep everyone warm, but they had a an electrical cord so we had to work to hide them so the Nativity would still appear authentic to everyone.”

Adams hopes the community will come out and enjoy the Nativity this year.

“We look forward to this every year and enjoy seeing the community come,” Adams said.

For more information, contact Adams at (205) 755-5587.