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Hundreds gather to watch Knoxville Nativity Pageant bring Christmas story to life

It was the 53rd year for the Christmas tradition. The production took a year off in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — On Monday, the Knoxville Civic Coliseum once again transformed into the town of Bethlehem for the 53rd annual Nativity Pageant of Knoxville.

The show brings the Christmas story to life, celebrating the story of the birth of Jesus while transporting the audience back in time. Seeing it has become a yearly tradition for many East Tennessee families.

It all started in 1969 after a group of people who lived in Knoxville wanted to start a live nativity pageant. Hundreds of volunteers get together each year to make sure the show still goes on.

Year after year, many of the same people play the same roles. Families get involved and pass down parts through generations.

"It's kind of a comfort to me whenever I get to see the story in person. I read it in the Bible, too, and it's just played out in the actors on the Coliseum floor," Melody Woods, who attended Monday, said.

The shows were free and open to the public, and ran at 3 p.m. on Saturday, December 11 and Sunday, December 12, as well as an additional show Monday at 7 p.m.