The "Walk Through Bethlehem" event at Kings Avenue Baptist Church in Brandon is a look at what life was like thousands of years ago.
BRANDON, Florida - Organizers of an annual event at Kings Avenue Baptist Church in Brandon say their "Walk Through Bethlehem" is a look back at what life was like thousands of years ago.
Pastor Charles Richard says, "The first year that we had it, we had about 900 people go through it and we had it out on the front lawn of the Chapel and we were excited about it that...that many people would come to it."
But now, over a 4-day period, about 7,000 people take a guided tour of the walk recreated to look like Bethlehem. The event is so popular that it takes up to two hours to go on it. It's given to people in groups of about 12 to 14. The tour lasts about 30 minutes.
There is entertainment and food available for purchase while you wait. Pastor Richard says they encourage people to come early, pick up a ticket, and then come back for their alloted tour time if they can.
It takes about 250 volunteers to dress up and play the parts he says are taken right out of the Bible. There are live sheep, goats, a donkey, a camel, and a zebra. It takes another 50 people or so to work behind the scene to accommodate the public.
Pastor Richard volunteers as one of the tour guides and says guests don't just watch the events leading up to the birth of Jesus. He says you actually become a part of it. He says each guest is treated as a Jewish person would have been treated traveling through Bethlehem.
Richard adds, "Seeing the animals, smelling the animals, hearing the animals and the Roman soldiers acting against you and you will become a person 2,000 years ago hearing this story. This rumor of a baby being born and you start looking for this baby and, eventually, you find the little baby."
Richard says, "And then we go through a time tunnel of 33 years and we say that this baby was born to die and he died on a cross. But the story doesn't end there and then we go to an empty tomb and we say he conquered death. The tomb is empty. He's resurrected."
While it costs the church $4,000 to $6,000 to put on the event, Pastor Richard says they do not charge admission. He says it's a gift to the community. While guests are welcome to drop money in donations jars placed throughout the event, they are not required to give.
The Walk Through Bethlehem at Kings Avenue Baptist Church is located at 2602 South Kings Avenue in Brandon.
On Saturday, Dec. 10, the event is scheduled from 4 p.m. - 10 p.m. Sunday is the last day. The event is being held from 4 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.
Click here for more information.