NEW WINDSOR — Below a starry sky, the young mother sat in a tiny wooden shack withher husband and child.
An angel and shepherds attended the woman.Sheep quietly munched on hay beside her, and a tiny burro restlesslypaced his stall. Only an occasional car passing on Route 75 remindedobservers they were in New Windsor and not ancient Bethlehem.
"We were driving around looking at Christmas decorations and decided to stop by," said Marlane Hrabik, who visited the live nativity at St. Luke's (Winter's) Lutheran Church with her two children, Neil, 8, and Amanda, 4.
"The kids really enjoy the animals and it gives them the real effect of the first nativity," the Westminster residentsaid.
"Bye-bye lambs, bye-bye donkey," Amanda called as her family turned to leave.
Church volunteers, full of the holiday's religious spirit, dressed as the biblical characters and sat immobile for about two hours in the Christmas Eve chill as community and church members came to view the re-creation.
"We got a good response for ourfirst year and a lot of people in the community asked us to do it again this year," said Janet Long, who played a shepherd. "People even came and sang to us last year."
The now-annual scene will be repeated at 7 p.m. today and tomorrow.
The cast for Tuesday's still-life was Amy Layman as Mary, John Jordan as Joseph, and Gail Talbert as the angel.
David Layman, David Jordan and Mary Layman were the other shepherds.
"Different people are involved every night," Long said "It just depends on who has volunteered."
The project was begunlast year, fulfilling a longtime dream of Pastor Darrell Layman.
"This is just something he has always wanted to do," Long said "He thought we had the perfect location."
Church members said they eagerly agreed to the concept.
"It was kind of a neat thing," said David Layman. "I remembered seeing one when I was younger and thought it would be good to do for some other people to enjoy."
As they stoodmotionless in the cold, group members said some visitors last year were surprised when they realized the scene was made up of real people.
"It was amazing to see the people's faces when they realized we were real," said Gail Talbert.
The success of that performance brought new recruits this season.
"They had so much fun last year that I wanted to be a part of this," John Jordan said.