For years, Chloe Thompson wanted to give everyone a special Christmas gift.
"I always wanted to do a nativity display," she said. "I wanted it to be something where people could come before Christmas, and have it introduce their holiday season."
She and her husband, Roy Thompson, started the Christmas Nativity Celebration at the Kaysville Tabernacle in 2003. That year, it was a one-day event, but it proved so popular that it was quickly expanded to a two-day annual happening.
Thompson expects about 5,000 people to come adore the many nativity scenes on display next weekend in the historic tabernacle.
But this may be the last year for the nativity celebration.
"It's a lot of work," said Thompson. "To do it like it should be done, we've had as many as 250 volunteers in those two days."
That includes hosts to greet people and watch over the nativity sets on display, and 90 children taking turns in a live nativity.
Janet Gallagher, of Kaysville, has been a volunteer since the beginning.
"I'm pushing 80, and every year it's harder to find people to help," Gallagher said, adding that she and Thompson are both planning on quitting this year.
She hopes someone will step forward to take over.
"It would be sad to see it fold up. ... People have commented, 'This is the ushering in of Christmas for my family,' and they like that fact that it's not about Santa Claus but the true meaning of Christmas."
A Christmas tradition
The Christmas Nativity Celebration is designed to be open to all, and welcoming to people of many faiths.
"We've gotten almost 6,000 visitors a couple of years," Thompson said. "One year, we had a bunch from a motorcycle group come, and now some of them come back every year. It's kind of a tradition for a lot of people."
Thompson estimates there will be at least 300 nativity scenes on display this year, in addition to the live nativity.
A tree in the west foyer will be decorated with 40 wooden nativity ornaments created by Gallagher. Thompson says there will also be new nativity wall hangings, and children will be invited to draw nativity scenes to post on an art wall.
A local Daughters of Utah Pioneers chapter is setting up a scene of Christmas past, using antique artifacts.
The Heritage Museum of Layton will have a display called "Gone But Not Forgotten."
"It will look at different parts of the city that are no longer there," said museum curator Bill Sanders, listing examples such as the Clover Club potato chip factory that's now a park, and the brickyard that's now the site of Bowman's Market. "It's kind of a historical review of Kaysville."
A display of handmade quilts has also been added to the mix.
Thompson chose the Kaysville Tabernacle for the celebration because it's a historic gem, and also because the chapel has good acoustics for music.
This year, 26 groups are scheduled to perform over the two-day period -- 10 on Nov. 26, and 16 on Nov. 27.
"We have some new performers this year," Thompson said. "The Weber State Alumni Choir is coming this year. ... And then we have past favorites, like the Hill Air Force Base Gospel Choir and the Beehive Statesmen."