Drive-through event to celebrate miracle of Christmas

Published 11:40 pm Friday, December 3, 2010

Volunteer Allen Ellis, right, and others spread hay in the manger scene at Wilroy Baptist Church’s drive-through panorama last year. The annual event has been revamped this year, but still includes the nativity scene and crucifixion scene.

A traditional Christmas event put on by a local church has been revamped this year to be more fresh and relevant to the community.

The Wilroy Baptist Church drive-through panorama is about 18 years old, chairman Charles Hearn said. It will be held next week, Dec. 10-12 from 6:30 to 8:15 p.m.

“It’s completely new this year,” Hearn said. “We have completely revamped it.”

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The panorama traditionally has shown scenes from Jesus’ life and ministry, including the nativity, miracles, crucifixion and resurrection. Live actors from the church perform the scenes as motorists drive slowly through the church parking lot.

This year’s panorama also features Christ’s birth and resurrection, but the rest of the scenes are completely new, including two portraying modern families shopping for Christmas gifts and reading the Christmas story in their family room.

“I think [the modern scenes] are going to help them relate to what’s going on today,” Hearn said. “Hopefully, it will get them in the right spirit of remembering exactly what Christmas is all about. It’s not about all the presents we’re buying. It’s about the Christmas miracle.”

Other new scenes this year will feature the Angel Gabriel appearing to Mary and to Joseph, as well as Christ’s ascension at the end of the panorama, Hearn said.

“It is our gift to the community,” Hearn said. “A lot of people have never set foot in a church. This way, they can come through and see exactly the life of Jesus.”

The event is free, and visitors can stay in the warm car with the heat on.

“You just drive through,” Hearn said. “You don’t have to get out of the car.”

Every year, about 500-600 vehicles view the panorama. They have had as many as 1,000 cars visit the event, Hearn said.

The panorama requires about 100 volunteer actors working in two shifts each night. In addition to the scenes, carolers will provide Christmas music and a tent will be available at the end for people who want more information about the church or want to talk about what they’ve seen, Hearn said.

“Every year, we do have people come through and they’ve made life-changing decisions,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about, for us. It’s a lot of work but it’s well, well worth it.”

Wilroy Baptist Church is located at 306 Williams Road, just off Wilroy Road by the Kangaroo gas station. For more information, visit the church’s website at