By RENEE FITE
A big dream for a small town came true this week for Hulbert resident Brigette Manes.
Manes enjoys giving back to her community, and she has coordinated the town’s living nativity for the past three years. Friends from Hulbert First Baptist Church, along with Manes’ family, help with the event, held Dec. 6-8 this year.
About 20 volunteers – including three angels atop the manger – dressed in costumes made by the women of the church. The cast also included a donkey, goat and camel. In the background, music played while a man narrated the story of the birth of Jesus.
“It brings our community out,” Manes said. “We handed out 198 candy canes last year. People came from Stilwell and Tulsa.”
Manes said the event continues to grow.
“The first year, we had the manger and an inn. We make everything ourselves,” Manes said. “Every year, we add more. Dewayne Smith built most of it.”
This year, the nativity set features an inn, manger, jail and census office, which were built by Manes’ husband, Scott; her son-in-law, Daniel Dallis; and a friend, Dewayne Smith.
“The first year was very emotional; the camel got here, the scenery was all lit up and the music was going, and it got to me,” Manes said. “You don’t always get to see your dream come true.”
The camel is often the center of attention.
“When the little kids come up and see the camel, their eyes light up. Not many kids get to see a camel these days,” Manes said.
Joe Malchow, owner of Sassy the camel, grew up in Nebraska, where his family raised dromedaries. Malchow now raises his own camels near Adair.
“This is a nice living nativity,” Malchow said. “It takes a lot to put something like this together.”
For volunteer Leiah Goins, who plays a wise man, the nativity provides a way to support the church and do something with her children, Madeline, 12 and Wyatt, 10.
Madeline played the part of a shepherd.
“It’s fun taking care of the animals, and being with my family out here,” said Madeline. “I love it.”
Nick Pruitt, youth and associate pastor of Hulbert First Baptist Church, played the part of one of the three wise men.
“Not too many places have something like this, with this number of people involved, and we have a real camel,” Pruitt said. “It’s eye-catching and to see how many people are willing to help shows they care.”
Gary Bowlin and Jeff Porter stood as guards at the nativity’s jail.
“It’s neat to have something like this in a small town,” Bowlin said.
This was Porter’s first time to participate.
“This allows us to celebrate Christ and his birth,” Porter said.
Scott Manes is supportive of his wife’s idea and proud of her efforts.
“It’s magnificent for our small community,” he said. “People get to see the true meaning of Christmas. If one person sees it and understands what the real meaning of Christmas is about, it’s worth it.”
Dubya Thompson was among the first visitors Thursday evening.
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