BANGOR, Maine — Some 2,500 people are expected to visit the Bangor Creche Exhibit Dec. 4-7 at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — and don’t worry about the weather. Haze Martin, who helped organize the annual event for many years, has it covered.
“I have a four-wheel-drive with a plow on it, so we’ll keep it open,” Martin said.
More than 500 nativities and manger scenes from around the world, many of them on loan from families of various denominations for the weekend, will be featured.
The church multipurpose room looks like a gymnasium now, but by noon Friday, it will be the centerpiece of a serene display of nativities for the 10th annual Bangor Creche Exhibit.
The exhibit will be open:
— Noon-8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4.
— 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5.
— Noon-8 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6.
— Noon-8 p.m. Monday, Dec. 7.
The creches will line the walls of the basketball court, sit on 10 two-tiered tables and overflow into several other rooms. Community members may walk through the exhibits on free, self-guided tours through Monday.
Portrayals of Jesus’ birth range from depictions on seat cushions to displays made of beans, and they come from around the world. A new one this year is a nativity made entirely of horseshoe nails. The church owns a few of the nativities, but most of the sets come from community members — even those who attend other churches.
It has taken volunteers many hours to set up, according to organizer Doreen Dickson. The end result will be art, creches and live entertainment in what she called a peaceful atmosphere.
The entertainment includes a 30-minute live nativity. The actors, mostly adults and children from the church, will not speak, but the audience will be asked to sing carols during the performance.
Other accompaniment includes singers, a family band, local choirs and piano music.
Martin described it as “sacred Christmas music.” There will be no Santa Claus at the event, he said. “It’s centered around Christ. It’s to remember what Christmas is really about.”
Dickson said people who are not religious could also enjoy the displays. “It’s art,” she said. “A lot of them are truly art pieces. They’re so interesting to look at.”
The church sponsors the entire program and gets some support from local businesses that provide at-cost materials.
“We don’t expect donations or request donations,” Martin said. “If people want to donate, they can donate to their favorite charity. We’d appreciate that.”
“In this economy people are looking for things that are cost-effective. This doesn’t cost anything,” Dickson said.
Attractions this year include a folk room with handmade creches and a place for children to make crafts or dress up as Mary, Joseph or a sheep.
The theme is “Home for Christmas.”
“We thought it would be a good tribute to soldiers who won’t be home this Christmas,” Dickson said. “It’s also about Christ in the home for Christmas.”
Admission is free. The church is located at the corner of Grandview Avenue and Essex Street.