Saving the Nativity: Kanab students restore decades-old city Christmas scene

Students at Kanab High School restore the city's antique Nativity scene, Kanab, Utah, date not specified | Screenshot from video by Joshua Baird, St. George News

KANAB – Three decades is long enough to wait for a face-lift – at least, that was the opinion of one group of Kanab High School students.

This year, students in Joshua Baird’s art class at Kanab High School undertook a project of life-size proportions, restoring the Kanab community’s almost-life-size Nativity scene, which is approximately 33 years old.

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Videocast by Joshua Baird, courtesy of Little Hollywood Media, St. George News

About 33 years ago, according to information from Little Hollywood Media in Kanab, Emma Houston and a group of other Kanab citizens raised money to purchase a Nativity set for the city. Now, showing three decades of wear after being on display for so many years, the figures in the Nativity set were sorely due for a makeover.

Students at Kanab High School restore the city's antique Nativity scene, Kanab, Utah, date not specified | Screenshot from video by Joshua Baird, St. George News
Students at Kanab High School restore the city’s antique Nativity scene, Kanab, Utah, date not specified | Screenshot from video by Joshua Baird, St. George News

The set has been out of use for several years and ended up in storage at an LDS church in Kanab, Matt Brown, recently released president of the Kaibab Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said.

“I found the Nativity figures while searching for something else in the church’s storage shed,” he said.

The set had been painted once, several years ago, Brown said, but this is the first time it has ever been fully restored.

“This time, they were completely overhauled,” Brown said. “I took the (set) to Josh Baird’s classroom, expecting they’d be repainted and receive some minor repairs. I wasn’t expecting a complete restoration.”

But a complete restoration is what the set got. At the hands of more than 40 KHS students, all working on a voluntary basis, new life was breathed – and brushed – into the aged Nativity scene, with students sanding, painting, repairing and, in some cases, rebuilding portions of the set’s figurines. The result is a like-new Nativity set that will, hopefully, last for a few more decades to come.

Students at Kanab High School restore the city's antique Nativity scene, Kanab, Utah, date not specified | Screenshot from video by Joshua Baird, St. George News
Students at Kanab High School restore the city’s antique Nativity scene, Kanab, Utah, date not specified | Screenshot from video by Joshua Baird, St. George News

The newly made-over Nativity scene made its debut reappearance on a float in Kanab’s annual Light Parade in November. Now, it is on outdoor display and will remain set up for public view through the end of December on the grounds of the LDS chapel at 604 S. 100 East in Kanab, across from the fire station.

Along with the stationary Nativity scene, community members and visitors can view a live Nativity Monday night at the 100 East LDS chapel in Kanab as an interfaith community event takes place there. At 5 p.m., chili and hot chocolate will be served free of charge, and a live Nativity production, featuring performers from Kanab and nearby Fredonia, Arizona, and Moccasin, Arizona, will take place at 6 p.m. Dozens of Nativity sets and gingerbread houses will also be on display inside the church from 5-8 p.m.

The event is free and open to all. Those desiring to share their own Nativity sets or gingerbread houses can set them up at the church between 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday.

Event details

  • What: Live Nativity
  • When: Monday, Dec. 22 | Dinner served 5 p.m., live Nativity 6 p.m.
  • Where: LDS chapel, 604 S. 100 East in Kanab
  • Admission: Free

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2 Comments

  • Evil twins mommy December 23, 2014 at 6:02 am

    You should all be proud of what you have done it was a gift to your community I would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a joyous new year to you and your families

  • Koolaid December 23, 2014 at 11:31 am

    How many babies are in that scene’s quiver?

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