Stony Brook Christian Assembly at 400 Nicolls Road, East Setauket, hosted its 12th annual free live nativity event, a tradition that brings well over a thousand people to the church.
Compared to other events that have had to change to being COVID-friendly in the pandemic age, the Drive Through Live Nativity has always been a first. Since its inception more than a decade ago, it allows families to go back in time to witness the scenes of Bethlehem and experience the true meaning of Christmas firsthand.
“Christmas kind of gets lost during the holiday season,” the Rev. Troy Reid said. “It’s nice to be reminded, take a breath, a pause and really remember its true meaning.”
The event starts off with cars waiting in line down Route 347 to head into the event’s seven scenes. Four at a time, the cars drive up the south driveway where people meet a crazy professor who tells them they’re going to teleport into the past and witness something great.
Families drive through the first station, watch a short film about the birth of Jesus and then are “shot back in time” to B.C. Bethlehem to follow Joseph and Mary’s journey, and the birth of her son.
Reid said that in each scene, the actors talk and interact with visitors in the cars who watch the mini play.
“More than 50 people help make this happen,” he said.
Heidi Reid, the pastor’s wife, said those 50 people are church volunteers.
“Our church is relatively small, so it’s cool that such a small church can pull this off,” she said, adding that the volunteers begin setting up the scenes in October.
The Rev. Reid said that they host four live nativities the first two weekends of December to kick off the holiday season. This year, heavy rain and wind forced the church to cancel the first showing on Saturday, Dec. 5, but the following day more than 600 cars showed up.
“On average we have between 1,800 and 2,000 people visit,” he said.
The last two nights, Dec. 11 and 12, had hundreds of people smiling in their cars as they stopped at the last scene, the Holy Land, to say “Happy Birthday” to baby Jesus.