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West Sacramento Sun

The Reason for the Season

Dec 23, 2022 12:00AM ● By By Michele Townsend

Included in the modern Christmas display were inflatable snowmen and light-up trees.

The Reason for the Season [3 Images] Click Any Image To Expand

WEST SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - In the last few years if you were on the North side of West Sacramento, you probably noticed the big light display that was set up outside of the Bryte Church, located on the corner of Jefferson and Sacramento Avenues.

This year, that light display was set up again. And it was a beautiful winter wonderland. The modern display included a land of candy, toys and other holiday icons. The display was made of blow-up characters and light up trees. It included wooden and balloon structures that looked like a land of candy.

In front of the Church, there was a beautiful white, glistening display of Christmas trees. Around the trees were white balloons that were masterfully designed to look like snow. There was a light up archway with dangling tufts of raw cotton tied ever so delicately onto thread, giving the guest the experience of walking in the falling snow. It was very elegant and beautiful. The winter, snow area even consisted of snow packed into two slides that kids were able to sled down on snow discs. The sound of children laughing filled the cold air as the kids took turns sliding down the 30-foot slides.

This year, however, the congregation of the Bryte Church brought us back in time to the reason for the season. On the other side of the church, away from the modern day, commercialized, Christmas display, was the town of Bethlehem. Set up in the Church parking lot was not just a cool display or scene, but the whole town of Bethlehem. As you walked into this free event, well over a hundred people were in time appropriate clothing from when Jesus was born.

A castle looking archway framed the entrance, where there were ladies dressed in gowns and head scarves. As you walked in, the ladies greeted you and gave you golden cardboard coins that you could use to buy hot chocolate, hot cider and freshly made doughnuts in the village. Christina Bondarenko explained what was happening as a small camel walked by and a group of Roman Soldiers was preparing to march through the village. Whimsical music played.

As the guest walked down the road of Bethlehem there was a stable with wood fencing and cardboard animals that included horses, sheep, camels and goats. The animals were placed perfectly to create a scene of peaceful cohabitation within a stable. There was a live petting zoo as well, but it was not within the town of Bethlehem. The zoo had horses, sheep, goats and emu.

A group of twenty children, dressed as sheep, along with two sheep herders came walking by. In addition, a small camel that had two children in one costume. Their heads were covered in a white see-through mesh fabric that made the humps of the ornately decorated camel.

Structures were set up in a way that allowed the guest to follow a roomy and spacious path through the town of Bethlehem. The structures were made of wood frames and cloth tarps. They had straw on the floors and bales of hay for chairs. They had antique wooden tables in some tents, holding candles. Tents were lit by a warm, soft glow as if the only light were the light from the candles. Each tent was a different business in the town, and they were decorated accordingly.

While walking through the town, everyone inside the structures was dressed the part. Parishioners of all ages were involved. Walking through the crowd were kings in velvets gowns and capes trimmed in gold and silver. They wore royal hats and stood strong and tall. There was Mary and Joseph, carrying baby Jesus. There were adult-sized camels that were just as impressive as the small ones.

Each structure portrayed a different business. These were not simply live displays; these were interactive displays. There was a tent where you could spend your gold coins received at the entrance and buy some hot cider. Further down the road was a tent for basket weaving, where you were actually taught how to weave a basket. Next there was a carpentry shop, where children could use wood hammers to pound wooden dowels into wood to see how things were built back then.

It was very cold outside but in front of each business was an outside heater that was decorated to be part of the display. In addition, there were fire pits with characters dressed in the times, sitting around the fires laughing and carrying on as men would do. There was a market, a pottery place, a place to scribe, and a candle making shop. There was a bakery where you could purchase freshly made doughnuts (that were being made fresh inside the church) that you could buy with your gold coins. There was an Inn with a no vacancy sign, a craft/jewelry store and a fragrance store where they had actual myrrh. The decorations to each business were remarkable, ranging from the plants that were hanging in the tents, to the simplistic furniture and of course lots of candlelight. There was a stage area where they performed a play depicting the birth of Jesus that began with God rising from the stage building. Incredibly dramatic.

“It took us months to do this. We had a costume designer from our church, and we went out and thrifted clothes and made clothes from them. We volunteered since the beginning of summer, and they taught us how to act” Christina said. She continued with, “It’s mostly people from our church, but there are some people from the community that helped as well.” It took the parishioners’ months of planning and preparing, as well as learning their parts. It took a week to set up the magical, realistic town for this three-day event. The attention to detail was phenomenal!

If you missed this amazing event, there is no doubt that you will be happy to learn that it will return next year. If you would like to donate, participate, or be involved in some way for next year’s exhibit, you can log onto and go to Volunteer sign-ups. And you are always invited to join them in church.

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