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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Bethlehem Marketplace comes to life this weekend in SL

Thursday, December 13, 2001

It must have been an exciting time to be in Bethlehem one particular night some 2,000 years ago when the word of a baby's birth spread from shop to shop and person to person.

This weekend one Storm Lake church will try to bring some of that magic to life with a "Bethlehem Marketplace," which will be "open" from 2 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 16, at the United Methodist Church.

This is the fifth year for the biannual event which features a cast of 100 people. It is a reenactment of the village of Bethlehem on the night of Jesus' birth.

The basement area of the church will be completely transformed for visitors. From the first steps through the city gates, people will be transported 2,000 years back in time and into a Bethlehem marketplace.

There will be a variety of different "shops" in the marketplace, including basket and spice displays, a money exchanger, and a synagogue. Live actors portray what the excitement must have been on the night of Jesus' birth, said Joan Rude.

"People will be led by a guide around the marketplace to see the different scenes," she said. "The dialogue is in anticipation of the savior, which must have been something people of that era thought about because of the oppression. It goes with the time of that period."

And moving out of the marketplace, visitors can than view the live nativity scene.

"We want people to take a step back in time on the night when Christ was born," Rude said. "People can smell the spices, feel the cloth, hear scripture in a synagogue, all things that bring that time to life.

"The main goal is to bring people to realization of why we celebrate Christmas, which is the birth of our savior," Rude said.

New displays and items are added every year to the popular holiday event, making it a must-see for everyone.

"This does change year to year," Rude said. "People that have been through it one time will enjoy going through it again."

It takes a lot of devotion from church members to bring the marketplace to life, and it also takes a lot of time before Sunday even arrives.

"There's a lot of talented people in the church who have worked on this project," Rude said.

Karen Hixon is painting a mural of a city scene, which will greet visitors before they step through the city gates. The goal is to help people forget about the present world and imagine a world 2,000 years ago.

JoAnn Olsen has also been busy earlier in the year growing, collecting and drying many of the herbs for the potpourris which will be handed out to visitors.

Church members have been very willing to help with the marketplace. "There's a lot of new people in the cast, and they're excited to be a part of it," Rude said.

Everyone is invited to the free event, Rude said.

"This is our gift to the community," she said. "All ages will enjoy it, children as well as adults."

Walk-through tours will take approximately an hour. The church is handicap accessible, and a wheelchair is available. Please enter through the south doors of the educational wing.

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