Christmas message

Living Nativity is pageant of service, tradition

When the Rev. Chuck O’Connor thinks he’s about ready to stop organizing First Baptist Church of Maryville’s Living Nativity, the feedback from parents and their children changes his mind.

O’Connor, minister of activities and missions at the church, has done living nativity scenes at three churches and this is his 27th year organizing the events.

“Each year I think it’s my last year, and I get parents saying, ‘Please don’t stop.’ That’s what keeps me going. The excitement is the seeing the faces of the children and how much they love it and hearing from parents,” O’Connor said. “It’s the feedback from family that keeps you motivated and also the people who serve with me. It has become a serving tradition for them.”

O’Connor said the event on Dec. 1 and 2 at the amphitheater in the Bicentennial Greenbelt Park drew about 900 people the first night and between 950 and 1,000 the second night. “It went well. It is exciting, but it is also challenging. We had people who waited up to an hour, which is not good, so we’ve got to figure out how to do it better,” he said.

O’Connor thanked Emily Byrd for helping coordinate the event. O’Connor also thanked the roughly 85 members who volunteered their time, and he recognized Maryville Alcoa Blount County Parks and Recreation executive director Joe Huff.

“Joe Huff at Parks and Rec works so well in loaning us the bleachers. He does that without question,” O’Connor said. “We could not do it without Gary Bridenbaugh at Out of Eden. They do a whole lot.”

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