At the end of Edmonton, Alberta’s Candy Cane Lane, past all the lights and glitter, you’ll find shepherds, wise men, Mary, Joseph, and Jesus—carved in ice or maybe wood or melted candles. Every year near Christmastime, during the city’s annual light and decoration display, West End Christian Reformed Church puts on a show of nativity sets, right at the end of Candy Cane Lane.
The church’s show began in 1999 with approximately 75 nativity sets. Last year it featured more than 360 sets and drew more than 3,000 visitors.
The idea for the display first came to Rhonda Van Heyst, a member of the church, when she saw nativity sets displayed at a theater production. “I thought, isn’t this what Christmas is all about? Then I wondered, do people even have these? We gave it a try, and it has grown every year since,” she said.
Visitors and nativity sets come from around the world. Van Heyst herself started collecting nativity sets because of the show and now has more than 50 sets of her own. And members of the congregation are not the only ones who loan their sets, says Van Heyst.
“We have people from many different denominations loaning us sets. We even have large blocks of ice donated each year, and a gentleman from the neighborhood comes to carve the nativity scene. It really draws people’s attention and encourages them to come and have a look inside. It’s our Christmas gift to the neighborhood.”
The show includes sets for children to play with, made of all kinds of materials from fabric to Play-Doh to toilet paper rolls. For more information, see the church’s website at www.westendcrc.ca