A Walk to Bethlehem returns to St. Lazare this festive season re-enacting the Christmas story


PHOTO COURTESY RICHARD SUSKIND

Scenes from last year's A Walk to Bethlehem as told in the Bible and re-enacted for the upcoming 11th year in St. Lazare, featuring local performers.

It seems nothing short of a miracle, that each festive season for the past 10 years thousands of people, not only from throughout our region but also from Ontario, New York State and even faraway countries, have flocked to a little church in St. Lazare to share in a beautiful and most traditional re-enactment of the Christmas story as told in the Bible.

Titled A Walk to Bethlehem, and with a cast and crew of over 200 volunteers, it is truly a labour of love on the part of the Hudson Community Baptist Church near the Four Corners in St. Lazare which transforms its spacious grounds and huge barn into olden days Bethlehem complete with live animals including sheep, donkeys and camels, a market place, singing angels, the manger scene in a stable, shepherds, three wise men, King Herod and Roman soldiers, as well as Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus.

The magical experience, which is free to attend although donations are graciously accepted, opens with visitors being shepherded into a welcome centre where, once inside, a guide sets the stage for the pending journey that lasts about 45 minutes and which sees them cast as fellow travellers who then must obey the law of the land while walking to Bethlehem to pay taxes and be counted. They are also given coins known as shekels which they must keep for the full duration of the tour in order to experience the sights and sounds of life as it was 2000 years ago.

Lose it and, speaking from experience, you will be thrown in jail by the soldiers until a fellow traveller volunteers to sing a song to pay your fine! Music is also an important part of the evening with singers and musicians performing along the route.

It is all made possible by some 135 costumed cast members and over 100 singers and musicians, including participants from different churches who serve as actors, carpenters, costume makers, cast, and choir members, as well as parking lot attendants and others behind the scenes - all working together to make this unique theatrical experience a success.

After the visit to Bethlehem, you will be transported back to the 21st century to warm up inside the church's hospitable auditorium to enjoy refreshments and homemade pastries and desserts baked by an army of volunteers, while chatting with cast members and listening to Christmas carols sung by a choir.

As most of the re-enactment takes place outdoors in the evening, organizers recommend that visitors dress warmly and wear sturdy walking shoes to tour the sometimes uneven terrain outside.

A Walk to Bethlehem will take place on Friday and Saturday, November 27 and 28, as well as on Friday and Saturday, December 4 and 5, at the Hudson Community Baptist Church grounds, located at 3141 Côte St. Charles, St. Lazare. Friday tours start at 6 p.m. up until 9 p.m. and Saturday tours at 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. Each tour group should start approximately every 10 minutes and for further info go to www.hudsonbaptist.com/walk-to-bethlehem.html or call (450) 458-1945.

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