Thursday, January 21, 2010

Snow closed Afton's Bethlehem this year ... the rest of the story

In December, did you click on the Village of Bethlehem website and see this?
Bethlehem Alive 2009 ... Due to Extraordinary Snow, Bethlehem Village will not be open for 2009.
For 10 years the village of Bethlehem has come alive in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia as visitors near and far enter the recreated village and step back to the time when Christ was born.

This past December was no different as volunteers worked for weeks preparing the Bethlehem Village located at Hebron Baptist Church in Afton. It was set to open December 18, the day of the big snowstorm that became known as the Blizzard of 2009, when two feet of snow fell over western Virginia. Bethlehem was cancelled and could not open for the 2009 season.

I contacted the good folks at Hebron Church to ask how the snowstorm and the decision not to open had affected them. Mr. Wallace responded and I thought it may be of interest to those who have become regular visitors to this Christmas tradition:

I read your note on your blog and thank you for it! I could not have been more shocked at the closing but since I made the decision, it was done. The snow was piled high and tight.

A faithful member took his tractor down and then had to drag square bales of hay all over the village to feed the animals by foot. We rent them from the zoo at around $3,000 each year. They do not come with a keeper, so someone in our church takes that on. This was the first year for Billy and he did a great job with the feed and watering.

Two of the tents we rent came down due to overload of snow.

There was no way we could have opened the village. The streets were full of snow, doorways had 4-foot drifts in them, and the parking lot was not passable.

Our biggest concern was if we opened, and someone was hurt in an accident trying to get to our village, how would we feel. We spent hours getting everything ready, but it was more important to us to have everyone safe, most of all, our visitors.

Perhaps we can open next year, perhaps not. All the money we collect as donations goes back into the village for repairs, update, and, of course, renting animals and tents. So we will leave it in the Lord's hands ... only He knows what this next year will bring.

Blessings to you and all your web friends!
If your family has been blessed by Bethlehem over the years and would consider a donation to help pay off this year's event so that next year may be possible, checks may be sent to the church. Be sure to note that the donation is for "Bethlehem Alive":
Hebron Baptist Church
66 Tanbark Drive
Afton, Va. 22920
(540) 456-6863
And, by the way, the church does not know I am posting this information for donations. Bethlehem has been a blessing to my family and we have donated in the hope Hebron will be able to continue a tradition that has touched thousands over the years. Perhaps others will donate, too.

No comments: