As we were preparing to open the doors for Christmas in Bethlehem 2012, a hail storm and torrential rain hit Petone. Amazingly, around 200 people visited on the opening night and a total of around 1000 visitors came over the three sessions.
This year we introduced a Hebrew schoolroom, with a rabbi to help children with their copying of a passage from Isaiah. Samantha the donkey was joined by a calf and a lamb, as well as chickens, bantams, guinea pigs and a rabbit. Most of the animals were in the back yard, which provided extra space for all our visitors.
Once again the opportunity to have a photo taken with Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus was very popular with both children and adults. Among the range of interactive activities on offer the cupcakes and bread in the bakery were in demand. Children enjoyed making a donkey mask and a beautiful Christmas star to take home.
Adults and children appreciated having a soothing hand massage in the spa. And the Aqua Splash children sold hand-made decorations to enable children from very poor families in North Vietnam to go to school.
This year, however, 40% were first time visitors, so the word is spreading in the community. Thanks to Hutt City Council’s Community Engagement Fund for helping us continue to provide Christmas in Bethlehem as a free community event.