An estimated 5,000 to 6,000 people visited Ponte Vedra Presbyterian Church’s recreation of Bethlehem Dec. 9 to celebrate the holidays and the birth of Jesus Christ. The annual “Bethlehem Visit” usually lasts two days, but the event on Dec. 8 was cancelled due to poor weather conditions.
According to Senior Pastor Richard Cooper, visitors strolled through the city and kept warm by the bonfire while sipping hot chocolate and enjoying snacks.
"We had so many families tell us that 'A Bethlehem Visit' is a part of their family's tradition," Cooper wrote in an email to the Recorder. “We are so grateful to be a part of their tradition that helps to prepare their hearts for the Christmas season."
This year, the pre-show held at the sanctuary included a song by Grace Jones, PVPC's Worship Director Jeremiah Jones and musician Frankie Urzetta. After the music, guests were showered with Florida "snow" (tiny soap bubbles) before entering the city. The Bethlehem recreation featured animals such as camels, donkeys, ducks, goats and sheep along with snacks, costumed merchants, a nativity scene and more.
Cooper noted that “A Bethlehem Visit” is a special attraction for visitors because it's a free gift to the community.
"We receive a lot of feedback from our guests," he said. "But one thing always stands out for me and the hundreds of volunteers that help make this event a reality, and that is simply their appreciation that PVPC is sharing the Good News of Jesus’ birth with the community. "
For more information on Ponte Vedra Presbyterian Church, visit www.pvpc.com.