This time around, perhaps the camels won't get tired.
The revived tradition of a live, drive-thru Nativity scene at Epworth United Methodist Church will return from 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 15 and 16.
Members of the church, along with camels, burros and sheep from Honey Hill Farm Mobile Petting Zoo & Pony Rides in Berry, Kentucky, will appear in the parking lot to enact the story of the birth of Jesus.
The church is at 5100 Karl Road in the Northland area. A police officer will be on hand to direct traffic.
The Epworth United Methodist congregation held a similar annual event in the 1990s, and the Rev. Jennifer Casto decided to try bringing it back in 2017 after establishing a drive-thru Ash Wednesday event.
"We have made some improvements in the scenery to make the cast members and the different sets more visible and more dramatic, to make the animals more visible to the drivers as they go through," Casto said. "The live donkeys, sheep and camels will be back, and will be more visible."
Also, she said, a little more rested, so that one of the camels doesn't grow weary and plop to the ground, as happened last year.
"Sometimes the camels got tired of standing, so we've worked out some of those glitches," she said.
"This time around, I assist in assembling some sets," said Scott Speicher, a member of the church since 1979. "They only last so long ... so we constructed new sets last year ... a number of years ago, we had a professional artist -- who has passed away now -- who came up with the set design."
Member Angie Taylor will return in the role of one of the angels.
"I'm an angel on more than just one weekend," she said.
Performing in the live Nativity scene is inspiring, Taylor said.
"Once you get into costume and the cars are coming through, you actually feel like you're part of it," she said. "People were telling me there was like a glow around me last year and there were times when I felt like I was out there worshipping. It was just so awesome.
"The whole thing for me is there are people who are afraid to come into church. It's great we can go out and show the story is not just for the people inside the church. That's what is great, is being able to share it."
"It's really kind of an amazing experience," said Elizabeth Bridges, who joined Epworth United Methodist a little over two years ago. "I participated last year and will do it again this year, and it is very spirit-filled.
"It makes Christmas Christmas. It shows what Christmas is all about," she said. "It's also a really community-building event for members of the church. We're all working together to be something positive for the community."
Bridges said the animals were a big hit last year.
"They're doing what animals do," she said. "The sheep decided they needed to eat some of the hay out of the manger last year. One of the camels got tired and laid down. It's just lots of fun."
"We realize there are many different faiths out there," Speicher said. "The whole idea is to reach out to the neighborhood. We really want to be able to meet people where they're at and make them feel welcome."
"It is intergenerational and multicultural, so it reflects very much what Bethlehem would have looked like 2,000 years ago and also very much reflects what our neighborhood in the Northland area looks like, so we feel it is authentic," Casto said.
She hinted that she may get in on the action.
"It depends on where I'm needed, but I'm prepared to play a role," Casto said.