Community rallies around church after living nativity topples days before opening night

Seaside Chapel in Carolina Beach wanted to bring a little extra Christmas spirit this holiday season (photo: Sydney Bouchelle/WWAY)

CAROLINA BEACH, NC (WWAY) — Seaside Chapel in Carolina Beach wanted to bring a little extra Christmas spirit this holiday season.

“Our community needed a little lift after COVID this year,” Dana Vess said. “So we thought this would be a good outreach for the community.”

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Lifting spirits through a living nativity. Director and Producer of the project Dana Vess says it’s been a labor of love over the last four months.

“All hands on deck,” Vess said. “We’ve been working and building the whole time the last four months and creating a city.”

The intricate set was nearly complete, only for it all to come crashing down on Sunday night, less than a week before opening night.

“Sunday night when the storm came through, we got up Monday morning and everything was torn down,” Vess said. “It looked like a tornado had come through.”

Heavy winds on Sunday night blew over much of the set (photo: Dana Vess)

Shocked by the damage, but they didn’t lose hope. Knowing they still wanted to host the event for the community, they put their heads together.

“We just knew it was an opportunity for God to shine,” Vess said.

Several members of the community responded to a Facebook post detailing the damage, offering help and donations.

More church members got involved and even some larger businesses like Duke Energy offered to help make it happen.

“It’s been a community effort. We have companies coming to help put up walls,” Vess said. “The things we thought would be very time consuming and we didn’t we’d be able to get done, now it looks like we’re going to be able to make it and it’s going to be even better than we anticipated.”

With help from the community and whole lot of Jesus.

“You know the old saying, Rome wasn’t built in a day…but Bethlehem will be,” Vess said.

If you would like to the the living nativity in action, it will be open December 4-6 and 11-13 from 5pm-9pm each day. Admission is free and it is for all ages. Groups of 10 people will go through at a time to help with social distancing.