Dave O’Roark, director of the drama ministry at Grace Polaris Church, Westerville, Ohio (Mike Yoder, lead pastor), is quoted in an article about the addition of live animals to Christmas productions during this time of year. A portion of the article, which appeared in the Columbus, Ohio, Dispatch, appears below. Click here to read the complete story.
Away in a manger are live donkeys, llamas and camels
This time of year, many central Ohio churches get animals from farms and petting zoos to add an air of authenticity — and a “baa” or a bleat — to living Nativity scenes.
As the donkey and llamas settle in the hay behind a manger Friday night, Paula Hayner hopes the children watching in wonder can envision what it was like in Bethlehem the night Jesus was born.
″(The animals) bring back the realness of the Christmas spirit,” said Hayner, co-owner of Sunshine Farms on the Far West Side, which provides farm animals for about 20 live Nativity scenes at central Ohio churches each December. “It kind of puts the Christmas back into Christmas.”
Hayner’s is one of several local and regional companies that work with churches to make their Nativity scenes come alive with real animals. Though some may think it’s a challenge to find animals in Ohio’s winter, it’s actually quite an industry locally.
The cost of welcoming the live animals, ranging from hundreds to a few thousand dollars, not to mention the potential clean up, is more than worth it, according to local church leaders. …
That’s not always the case, as Dave O’Roark, director of drama ministry at Grace Polaris Church, has found out over several years working on the church’s annual Christmas pageant.
He’s seen his share of camel, donkey, sheep and goat droppings. One of the parts in the pageant every year, which will run Dec. 14-16, is a person who follows the animals around with a dust pan and a broom.
This year, two camels will return to the pageant, along with a donkey and a horse. The Westerville church has even built a permanent enclosure for the animals to stay in while they’re working in the pageant, he said.
The large animals, especially the camels, are a big draw for people, said O’Roark, who gets the animals from a Wisconsin farm, which also works with the Columbus Zoo to do camel rides year-round.
“When people call to ask for tickets, they want to know if they can sit on the aisle the camel is going to walk down,” he said. “They love it.” …
O’Roark thinks the animals, even their droppings and smell, make people feel immersed in the experience and the story of Christmas.
“We try to give as real of an experience as possible, with the idea of reminding them that one day, 2,000 years ago, this really happened,” O’Roark said.
Click here to read the complete story.