CERES (CBS13) — This weekend marks the finale of a Christmas miracle for Grace Community Christian Church in Ceres. Back in August, their trailer was stolen with nearly 200 costumes for “The Journey to Bethlehem” inside.
But a determined community came together to save the show just in time.
“These people will come out here and wait three to four hours just to see this program,” said Tammy Hott, Journey Director with Grace Christian Community Church. “It’s amazing what they’ll do.”
It’s a Ceres tradition that almost didn’t happen. Thousands of people visit from near and far for this one-of-kind journey to Bethlehem.
“There you will pay your taxes and be counted in the census,” said one of the actors portraying a Roman Soldier. “This by the order of our emperor Caesar.”
But this summer brought a major setback. Costumes, headpieces, fabric, and props were all stolen from this church trailer.
“Every little thing you could think of was in that trailer!” Hott said.
“It was devastating to think someone would steal from a church,” said Kathy Hersey, one of the performers.
And with just three months to prepare, neighbors and other churches came together to remake nearly 200 costumes.
“What started off to be evil, turned into an amazing gift,” Hott said.
She told CBS13 she’s grateful the show can go on for families eager to retrace the steps of Mary and Joseph.
“People just tend to forget and it just brings you right back to why we celebrate Christmas,” said Renee Christian, visiting from Patterson.
The ‘Journey’ features volunteers portraying biblical families, the Three Wise Men, and even the Roman Soldiers. Some have spent a lifetime trying to preserve this Christmas tradition.
“Twenty-two years, I’ve been out here every year,” Hersey said. “Without the community and other churches helping us, we wouldn’t be out here tonight.”
Their friends and neighbors were just the miracles this church needed to relive another miracle in a manger. The journey to Bethlehem concludes Friday night at Grace Christian Community Church starting 6 pm.