Champaign families host a children’s live Nativity

CHAMPAIGN — A way for three families linked by friendship and their Catholic faith to reinforce the meaning of Christmas has quickly evolved into a neighborhood and parish tradition.

For the second year, the Herges, McMahon, and Schacht families — all members of Holy Cross Parish — organized a children’s live Nativity in the front yard of the McMahon’s home, 713 Breen.

“We have a lot of intertwining godparents” among the families, said Rich McMahon. Crediting his wife, Jessica, and friend Corinne Herges with the idea a year ago, Rich McMahon said the families — with 10 children among them — have embraced the tradition.

The children especially “get excited about their roles and are already thinking about next year,” he said.

IN ADDITION to emphasizing the birth of Christ as the reason for the season, the live Nativity also serves to spread the Savior’s love. Donations are accepted at a refreshment stand across the street serving hot chocolate and cider. This year’s Nativity raised nearly $200 for the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

Last year, proceeds were given to the Catholic Worker House.
The Nativity was promoted in the parish bulletin and at Holy Cross School. In addition, Jessica’s aunt and her husband made a sandwich board sign promoting the scene to a nearby busy street.

“We heard a lot of nice comments from people stopping by — how much they appreciate the idea,” said Rich McMahon, who said he “tried to get hold of some real animals,” but settled for stuffed sheep and a moving cow portrayed by Emily Herges, 3.

The children “immediately got right into their roles” when the visitors started arriving at 4 p.m., said Corinne Herges, and “got a lot of meaning” from their portrayals. But Rich admitted some of the younger cast members were “wandering shepherds” who enjoyed mingling with the crowd, walking around the yard, and “not really doing much shepherding.”

And when it grew dark, all actors were ready to go inside and eat cookies.

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