What could be more Christmas than following a star to discover the story of the Christ child?
That’s the thinking at St Mark’s Anglican Church in Ocean Park (12953 20 Ave.), where a new distinctive, stylized Christmas star has been raised some 10 metres above the entrance this season – an added invitation to visit the church and its annual outdoor presentation of the Nativity story, The Journey of Christmas.
“We’d have liked to be able to have the star 300 feet in the air – but I don’t think we could build a structure high enough,” laughed St. Mark’s publicist and Journey of Christmas volunteer chair Brian Walks.
Naturally, the appeal of the church’s one-of-a-kind display remains the same – a guided walk in the woods on a lit path past a series of tableaux depicting the story of the Nativity, featuring mannequins, murals, theatre props and lighting, and a complete audio presentation – followed by hot chocolate and live entertainment (on selected nights) in the parish hall.
Since being built by volunteers in 1999 as St. Mark’s response to prevalent secular displays and programs, the Journey of Christmas has drawn more than 15,000 people to celebrate the birth of Christ during the Christmas season – even through some bitterly cold winters.
“Fortunately the long-range weather forecasts for the two weeks up to Christmas say it’s going to be pretty mild this year – around eight degrees,” Walks said.
But those including the Journey of Christmas in their planning this season should be aware that the church and display will not be open beyond Christmas Eve this year.
“It just became a little too hard to get volunteers to commit to days after that,” Walks noted.
Logistics also limited the number of evenings that live entertainment could be provided, but it is of a quality and appeal that adds an extra dimension of warmth and good fellowship to a display visit, he said, adding that all performances are at 7 p.m.
On Thursday, Dec. 18, the St. Mark’s Choir will be joined by the piping voices of the 2nd Peninsula Girl Guides.
On Saturday, Dec. 20, it will be the turn of the Gilbert & Sullivan Society Singers to add to the festive spirit, and on Monday, Dec. 22, congregation members and noted singers Christopher Simmons (tenor) and Debra Da Vaughn (soprano) will join with members of the Young People’s Opera Society.
Journey of Christmas hours are 6-9 p.m. Dec. 14-23 and 3.30-9 p.m. Christmas Eve.
On Christmas Eve, the public is also invited to a special children’s service in the church at 5 p.m., while the St. Mark’s Choir will lead the singing at traditional services at both 7 and 11 p.m.