Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2012, 9:10 am

90+ nativity sets on display will kick off holiday spirit

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By Leon Lagerstam, llagerstam@qconline.com

Photo: McClatchy Newspapers
Lisa Marie Presley is back forging her own musical career.
ALEDO -- Imagine how much tougher it would have been for the Three Wise Men to visit 90 to 100 Nativity sites.

Smart Christmas holiday lovers, though, only have to travel to Aledo's United Methodist Church for some Magi magic.

''We think we will have more than 90 nativity displays for people to see,'' church member Ruth Dulaney said. ''This is our gift to the community to help them start the Christmas season and celebrate the birth of Jesus.

"After they enjoy seeing all the nativity sets from our congregation, then they can enjoy visiting all of our specialty booths featuring homemade baked items, noodles, ready-to-bake casseroles for dinners to go, frozen desserts, lots of Christmas cookies and candies, and holiday decorations.

''And we haven't forgotten our four-legged friends and have some nice treats for them,'' she said.

A ''Pampered Pooch'' booth will be among 10 specialty displays at the second annual ''Follow the Star'' holiday bazaar from 3 to 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16, and 8 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Nov. 17, at the church, at 301 N. College Ave., Aledo.

''Our first year was such a great success, we expanded this year's to Friday and Saturday so we can serve more people,'' Ms. Dulaney said. '"We had about 150 people that came through last year, so we have a goal of at least twice that many this year.''

Last year's event also raised more than $2,000 for local mission projects, ''so we imagine we'll get at least that much again this year,'' she said.

About 50 church volunteers are needed to make the event a success, Ms. Dulaney said. Church children dress up as angels and shepherds to welcome guests.

The nativity sets, though are the big draw, she said.'"We have a huge variety and try hard not to have any duplicates. We have at least two major collectors in our church, so we have several nativity sets from different countries and many of them are hand-crafted out of wood, ceramic, glass and cloth. They come in all sizes and range from being very expensive to simpler, more rustic ones.''

Her favorite is a Fisher Price nativity set, she said.''Some of them are musical, some light up, and some are for children to play with. One of them I remember from last year had Northwest Bears, representing the nativity scene.''

Specialty booths are:
--Candy Cane Café: Sweet breads and hot beverages
--The Country Store: Homemade noodles and baked items
--Dinner-to-Go: Ready-to-bake frozen casseroles
--Sweet Shoppe: Cookies and candies
--Love Notes: Handcrafted cards and paper products
--Kitchen Korner: Rada cutlery and That's My Pan
--Deck the Halls: Holiday decorations and children's items
--Pampered Pooch: Homemade pet treats and accessories
--Christmas Re-Runs: Recycled holiday decorations
--Creative Hands: Hand-sewn items for the home.

''Wise Men followed the star to see the birth of Jesus,'' Ms. Dulaney said, ''so we hope people will 'Follow the Star' to Aledo and enjoy the nativity again.''