LARIMORE, N.D. -- The Larimore Community Museum on Saturday took children on a journey to the place of Jesus’ birth with a reenactment of Bethlehem at the turn of the first century.
The museum board’s “Back to Bethlehem” Dec. 14 event featured a dozen stations with hands-on activities for children, ranging from making baskets, to carpentry and leather working. "Back to Bethlehem" was held to remind children -- and adults -- about why Christmas is celebrated, said Melissa Lehman, event committee chair.
“With all of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, we start to lose the focus, so it’s nice to have an event that brings us back to why we have Christmas,” Lehman said.
As guests entered “Bethlehem,” set up in the community room of Good Friends Bar and Grill, they were welcomed by a census taker who asked them for their signature on an enrollment form. According to the Bible's Luke 2:1 “ In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.”
Back in Larimore, as children worked on projects at the stations, museum volunteers dressed as Roman soldiers milled throughout the town, sternly enforcing the “laws” of the land.
Besides the work stations and volunteers dressed in period clothes, food, including pita bread, olives and cheese, was available at Back to Bethlehem for the cost of a few shekels. The shekels were available for purchase for 25 cents each.
Outside of Good Friends, in an alley sheltered from the wind, volunteer Colman VanInwegen stood watch over a pony, llama and sheep.
“There was going to be a donkey, but she got scared when she was being loaded, so they brought a miniature pony that looks donkeyish,” Lehman said.
The animals, munching on hay, didn’t seem uncomfortable in the minus 10-degree weather. VanInwegen, meanwhile, had several layers of clothes under his white shepherd robe.
"All of the winter gear you can put on," said Kip Pierson, the animals' owner.
Despite the cold day, more than 70 people attended Back to Bethlehem in the first two hours.
“It has exceeded my expectations,” Lehman said. “All the kids are loving everything, and all the parents are really pleased.”