Thursday, December 16, 2010

The gang's all there

By Meredith Deliso

It’s one thing to believe in the story of the Three Wise Men, Mary and Joseph, and the little baby that they birthed in a manger, but it’s another thing to see it live.

So as it has done for decades, the New Utrecht Reformed Church will mark the Christmas holiday this Saturday with its annual living nativity — a recreation of the manger scene using live actors and animals.

Save for the electric floodlights and a CD blaring holiday music, the tableau of the Virgin Mary, Joseph and the shepherds presents a peaceful Biblical scene — the only one of its kind.

“It’s a very nice gift to the community,” said Susan Hanyen, vice president of the church’s Consistory. “It’s really what Christmas is all about. It’s not about the shopping, but about what the gift was.”

For three hours that day, actors will be dressed in Biblical clothing to portray the scene ­— with baby Jesus “played” by a plastic doll (hey, it’s cold outside). Live animals — a cow, two sheep, and two goats — will also create a temporary petting zoo that’s sure to stand out on the church’s lawn.

“Eighteenth Avenue is a busy street, so people are sometimes taken aback to see this scene in the middle of a busy street,” said Hanyen.

Living nativity at New Utrecht Reformed Church [18th Avenue between 83rd and 84th streets in Bensonhurst, (718) 256-7173], Dec. 18 from 3-6 pm. Free. For info, visit


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