Springfield will present its 33rd annual nativity pageant with one performance under the stars at 7 p.m. the evenings of Dec. 7 and 8. The pageant, voted “Best of Minnesota Live Nativity” by WCCO television viewers last year, is presented free of charge as a gift from the Springfield community.

The pageant retells the biblical story of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem more than 2,000 years ago. Springfield uses a natural outdoor setting with an all local cast representing the characters of the nativity, including family with a baby, a live manger scene – including camels – and a community chorus.

Professional sound and lighting systems enhance the production, and large painted backdrops re-create the biblical aura. Characters are attired in authentic period costumes.

This year’s pageant will be presented at a new location on the Springfield Area Community Center grounds. The pageant has traditionally been staged on the football field in Riverside Park, but the field was damaged by July flooding. The repaired turf in need of time to become reestablished, requires the site change.

The change in venue represents a return to the pageant’s roots. The pageant’s first performances in 1986 were staged on South Marshall Avenue in the central business community.

Four years later the pageant was moved to Riverside Park in order to accommodate larger audiences. Organizers feel the community center location has logistical advantages for cast and crew and visitors as well.

There is charm in the warmth of a village setting, it is easily accessible for motorists and pedestrians and offers ample nearby parking. Portable bleachers will be set up for spectators.

The pageant time is approximately 40 minutes.

Visitors are encouraged to dress warmly and comfortably for cold winter conditions and are encouraged to bring blankets and/or stadium robes. Visitors are invited to join the pageant crew and cast for holiday refreshments in the community center following performances.

The Springfield Area Nativity Theatre Association is the official sponsor of the event, with volunteers from all of Springfield’s churches participating. Several hundred individuals volunteer their assistance in many ways. The pageant is funded by a summer burger feed, a holiday luncheon and cookie sale and donations.