Walk to Bethlehem opens

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By Elli Rarick

If you were out last Sunday evening traveling on SR 121 between CR 326 and CR 464, depending on which direction you were headed, you couldn't miss the massive display of lights leading into the woods where you are invited to join in the guided and narrated "Walk to Bethlehem" that will be open each evening from 7-9 p.m. through Sunday, Dec. 23. There is no admission fee.

Passers-by will see flags flying with costumed greeters to welcome visitors at the front gate and assist with parking. Upon entering through the gate, you will be greeted by the many giant blow-ups beckoning you down the lighted "Fantasy Lane" where Victorian costumed Al and Midge Fields will stroll with you on this walkway and past all the train villages.

If you enjoy visiting train villages, you will not want to miss this magnificent display of lighted running trains as they make their way around the tracks and through several towns nestled in winter.

There will be sleigh rides for the children and a visit to the North Pole. A patriotic display saluting our men and women in military service is at the end of the lighted walkway down "Fantasy Lane" where Christmas trees of all sizes display dazzling lights and colorful decorations and packages beneath.

This is the third year that Pastor Dana and Callie Fields of Living Water Life Center have opened their property up to the public to experience the interactive walk with Mary and Joseph as the story of their journey from Nazareth through the many towns to reach Bethlehem is told by former church drama director, Callie Fields.

Twenty-five years of ideas and study of the many towns Mary and Joseph traveled through went into this project becoming a reality located in Levy County. They and members of their congregation begin in October preparing and setting up, although the planning takes place all year.

The lighted walk, or caravan, takes approximately 20 minutes to complete. This year there will be the addition of more live characters to enhance the interaction. Everyone will receive the token gold coins necessary to pay the tax collector in order to pass through Jerusalem on the way to Bethlehem.

"Groups of 10 or less are ideal and two groups can be going at the same time," said Callie.

She also noted that the first year 170 persons went through and last year there were 400 visitors. This year they are expecting even higher numbers as people know more about them.

In addition to the biblical stories and displays along the walk, visitors may observe the marketplace, a candle shop, carpenter's shop, potter's wheel and much more in the city on their way to the Bethlehem Inn and finally the stable where the Baby Jesus is being watched over.

The magic of Christmas is shown in tents set up with displays of collections of angels, Nativities and more. Every night there will be free hot chocolate and popcorn served from "Dasher's Diner" which visitors may enjoy while watching Christmas movies of the evening.

Plan to come out one evening and then return with family, friends or a group to enjoy this spectacular event that tells the biblical account of Mary and Joseph's journey to Bethlehem and also an opportunity for the entire family to enjoy the magic of Christmas. There is something for everyone. For more information call 528-4060.