About 500 nativity scenes from all around the community were brought to one local church for the Arlington Nativity Festival held from Dec. 13 to 15 this year.
The event from the Smokey Point Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has been held a number of times in the past.
“We didn’t do it last year, we just put on a concert,” said Jay Schilaty, one of the organizers and second councilor in the Arlington State Presidency for the church.
This year they held a concert again, in addition to the festival. The concert on Dec. 15 also featured Aerie, one of the Arlington High School choirs.
The main feature of the festival though was the many, many nativities on display.
“It’s amazing how many nativities some people have,” said Schilaty.
Local Mike Wray said he enjoyed coming to the Nativity Festival for the first time.
“I’ve never been here before but I’ve heard about it from friends,” he said.
“I thought I’d check it out this year. So far it’s really cool. I have a couple of my own sets at home but it’s really cool seeing the variety,” he said.
There are a number of different nativities that range in size and scope.
“A kid made a Lego nativity over there which I thought was awesome,” said Schilaty.
Although Schilaty said his favorites often have a story behind them, like one donated nativity from a couple that lives in Darrington and served a mission in Africa.
“This nativity was made from the shells of rifle rounds from a revolutionary war. A man took the tools of destruction, melted them down and made them into a nativity. It’s not the most impressive one to look at, but when you realize what it means and where it came from it’s very cool,” he said.
The display room also had live performances for the festival.
“We have live music playing the whole time,” said Schilaty.
One room featured paintings from local artists and artists around the world that featured Jesus Christ’s life in roughly chronology order.
“One of the best parts about the festival is what we call the ‘Life of Christ’ room,” said Schilaty.
Another feature was a kids room with activities and outfits for the children to take a picture with. The children were also able to participate in a scavenger hunt.
“There’s different nativities on the scavenger hunt and they can run around and find them,” said Schilaty. Winners get a candy cane for their participation.
Schilaty said the event has typically been busy on the weekend and that people like the time to slow down and take in the atmosphere.
“For a lot of people it’s a calming place to be. If you really take the time to look around at all the pictures, then you walk away feeling good about it,” he said.
As a Latter-Day Saints church, Schilaty also said they want to emphasize what they believe.
“One of the main reasons we do this is that it’s important for people to know we believe in Jesus,” he said.