"Echoes of Christmas" filled Liberty Park on Wednesday night.
There was music and singing, braying of a donkey, and bleating of sheep and goats. There was even a mostly silent camel named Chuck.
An appreciative audience toured six live Nativity scenes, serenaded at each stop by actors dressed as Mary, Joseph, shepherds, wise men and other staples of the Christmas story.
"Our purpose is to reflect upon the origins of the holiday that we celebrate as Christmas, and that is the birth of Jesus Christ," said Bob Baird, who created "Echoes of Christmas" with his wife, Virginia.
Baird describes the nondenominational event as "an outdoor search for the meaning of life." The question is posed by a young shepherd at the program's beginning and answered in the final act by a chorus of angels, he said.
"Jesus brought the meaning of life, which is love," he said. "The Lord is love."
Produced by their nonprofit Peace-Cradle Foundation, the Bairds have taken the idea of a living Nativity and turned it into a multiple-act production featuring original music. Each show runs about 40 minutes, though that includes about 20 minutes of walking time.
"It's a new concept," Baird said. "Instead of having the scenes come to you in the theater, you're going to walk to the scenes."
"It was wonderful," said Linda Fairbrother of West Jordan. "I think it has great potential. I can see it growing and growing in years to come."
Among the first groups to see the production were about 25 LDS Church youths and their leaders from the Draper and Sandy areas. "It was very spiritual," said Megan Hewett, 15.
About 100 volunteers have donated their time, talents and supplies to turn Virginia Baird's 12-year-old idea into reality.
"Virginia had the idea for a long time," Bob Baird said.
About five years ago, the West Jordan couple plotted out various scenes and the stories they would tell. Then, about a year ago, the Bairds enlisted the help of Utah musician, producer and composer Clive Romney to create an original soundtrack for the show. The music is orchestrated by Larry Bastian.
Others helped with making costumes, props or in-kind donations. IFA Country Stores donated $1,600 worth of animal feed to cover Ivie Acres Farm's cost to provide the live animals.
"I think this is a really needed event downtown," said Sherrie Ivie, owner and operator of the Herriman farm. "It will be awesome if they can get the community involved and do it again (in future years)."
That's the Bairds' hope, too."This is our gift," Bob Baird said. "We hope we can give this to a lot of people."
'Echoes of Christmas'
Echoes of Christmas runs 7 to 9 p.m. daily though Tuesday except for Sunday at Liberty Park, 600 E. 1000 South. Enter the park from 900 South at 600 East. The event is free.
Wheelchairs and an electric cart are available for people with special needs.For more information, visit echoesofchristmas.com