Drive-Thru Live Nativity Scene draws almost 700 cars on Saturday

Local Church Hosts Live Nativity Scene To Raise Money For Others

RICHLAND, Wash. — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Richland took an innovative approach to celebrate Christmas with the community.

The Church far exceeded expectations on Saturday evening when it drew close-to 700 cars for a live outdoor nativity event. Most live nativities were canceled this year due to COVID-19, but this one accounted for social distancing.

Families and spectators lined up on Gage Blvd. to enter the free drive-thru event well-before it kicked off at 6 o’clock p.m. Some waited up to an hour for entry.

The nativity itself was a detailed and intricate scene of the manger where Jesus Christ was born. The spectacle even featured two guest appearances from live animals — Sheep and a camel.

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As First Counselor at the Hillview Ward Bishopric, Randy Dirks felt strongly about celebrating the holidays despite the circumstances.

“We really wanted to get the community involved as well just as a way to celebrate Christ while celebrating Christmas,” Dirks said. “The response was actually a lot bigger than we expected.

I think it helps to bring the spirit of Christmas into people’s lives at such an important time of year after such a terrible, tough year for a lot of people.”

Considering the ripple effect of COVID-19 in the Tri-Cities community, Dirks and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints used this event as an opportunity to support those in need.

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In addition to being a fun, festive event, the drive-thru nativity also served as a food drive to combat hunger in their neighborhood. Over 800 lbs of food were donated at the event. Church representatives dropped the haul off at the Tri-Cities Food Bank on Monday.

“People need to be able to give during this time of year it helps them to feel good it helps them be able to serve,” Dirks said.

The event wouldn’t be possible without the help of volunteers from throughout the community.

“The number of people that wanted to be a part of it and came together to be in that scene with so much dedication — They’re out there in the rain right now,” Dirks said on Saturday night. “They’re standing out there for hours in the rain no breaks and they’re happy to do it.”

Not only did the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints succeed in celebrating their religion, but they united citizens of the Tri-Cities in trying times.

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