BRADFORD — For the past 20 years, Rod and Deb Grunloh have hosted the children’s Christmas program for Boyd’s Grove United Methodist Church at their barn in rural Bradford.
This year, with COVID-19 restrictions still in full force, their tradition was off the table.
But they didn’t totally give up hope on doing something for the kids in their church. After brainstorming what could be done, the idea for what could quite possibly be a new tradition on the Grunloh farm was born.
With the help of members of their church, the idea of building a drive-thru live nativity scene came to fruition.
Jessica Peterson, a member of Boyd’s Grove United Methodist Church, who has been instrumental in the planning of the nativity scene, said she didn’t want her kids to have to sacrifice one more thing this year.
“I think everybody needs that Christmas spirit, especially with everything that’s happened in 2020,” she said. “This is giving them some joy and not taking one more thing away.”
Deb, who is the church’s Sunday school teacher, added that one of the biggest driving forces to do something this year despite the COVID restrictions was Kaden Wall, a 13-year-old Bradford boy who was killed in a tragic farming accident on Nov. 3.
Kaden was a member of the church and Deb said he always looked forward to the Christmas program, always asking for a bigger part in the play.
“He loved participating in it and our community was hit really hard with Kaden’s passing,” Peterson said. “This is just one more thing to make things feel normal again.”
About 25 kids are expected to be apart of the live nativity scene. The Grunlohs are pulling out all the safety measures. The kids will only be in contact with their families, and people who visit the farm on Saturday will be asked not to get out of their vehicles.
Deb said all the kids are very excited to be doing something this year. She’s even gotten videos of kids practicing their parts.
She added that watching everything come together so last minute makes this new plan feel like a “God thing.”
Neighbors have pulled together to ensure everything is needed to make the show a success. People have donated items, built props and even plan on lending their farm animals the night of the show. The show will feature a donkey, sheep, a cow and camels.
Deb said she’s unsure if the Christmas program will ever go back to being in the barn. There’s already plans for next year’s live nativity, which puts a smile on her face when she talks about it. Plus, this show is expected to draw a larger crowd. The past Christmas programs have been limited to the church family, whereas this show is open to anyone who wishes to see it.
The show will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5. The Grunloh farm is located at 15594 300 North Ave., Bradford.