An annual holiday tradition in Abbotsford has raised more than $43,000 for the Salvation Army and collected more than 35,000 pounds of food for local food banks in the last 24 years.
The Nativity Drive-Through, held by HillCity Church (formerly Abbotsford Christian Assembly), has also been visited by almost 20,000 carloads of families in that time.
But Dave Schapansky, executive pastor of the church, said people are ready for a change, and the Nativity Drive-Through will no longer be held.
The event featured 11 outdoor scenes portraying the Christmas story, with lights, live animals, and actors dressed as Mary and Joseph, angels, wise men and shepherds.
The public viewed the scenes from the comfort of their vehicles, and donations were accepted for the Abbotsford Food Bank and the Salvation Army.
Schapansky said the Nativity Drive-Through has seen attendance drop over the last five years. There have also been challenges with bad weather such as high winds creating safety issues around the tall sets.
The decision was made that 2014 would be the last year for the event, and church members have now been thinking about what they can do next.
“We don’t know what that is yet, but we are excited about new opportunities involving more of the community,” Schapansky said.
He said HillCity Church will continue to support the community through its involvement with Cyrus Centre for homeless and at-risk youth, the Samaritan Inn for men in addiction, the Starfish Pack program to provide food for kids, and as a satellite centre for the Abbotsford Food Bank.
“These are near and dear projects to our community, and they are to us, too. I cannot help but think that they might be woven into our future Christmas tradition planning,” Schapansky said.