When Cache Valley resident Reid Smith noticed a streetlight that cast a glow across the street and into the corner of a field, he felt like it was a sign.
At that moment, he knew he needed to build a Nativity in that spot for the residents of Newton, Utah, which has fewer than 800 people.
“(During) the Christmas season, I imagined and dreamed that it would be a beautiful place for a Nativity,” he said in a phone interview before the event. “It seemed perfect, being that we already had animals and that I was capable of building something.”
Last Saturday, Smith’s dream became a reality when more than 60 people throughout the area came together to create the live Nativity scene. Smith invited the community to dress up as angels, wise men and shepherds, and participants switched out roles to take pictures.
“I have a Mary and a Joseph committed, but we are calling it an interactive Nativity because we want people to come dressed up as we take turns filling the roles,” Smith said before the event. “There will be a lot of activity.”
In addition to the photo opportunities, cookies and hot chocolate were served as the sheep wandered around, according to Smith. He hopes to keep the Nativity up, with cutouts of Mary, Joseph and a manger, through the rest of the season for a “semi-live” Nativity.
“Our animals can come down to (the Nativity), whether or not it’s live,” Smith said. “Everyday on my way home from work, I give them a scoop of grain, and they just hang out around the Nativity.”
Smith also hopes to open his Nativity up to more people, including church groups, youth groups, family groups and friend groups who want to use his animals and Nativity for their own activities.
“I think it would be a good thing for the community,” Smith said. “Last year, (my family and I) were walking around Temple Square, and I took pictures of every single Nativity — they were part of my inspiration.”
As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Smith said this Nativity is a way to help share his testimony with his friends and family.
“I love Christmas and I love the gospel,” he said. “I’m a ward missionary right now, and there is nothing more important to me in my life than living the gospel and sharing it.”
The Nativity is located at 300 West and Main Street in Newton, Utah.