KIRTLAND — Volunteers are still busy putting up more than 600 Nativity scenes for the nationally acclaimed exhibit at Historic Kirtland in preparation for the formal opening on Friday. A lighting celebration and musical program will begin 6 p.m. Friday. Nativity sets representing countries and cultures from around the world will fill the Visitors Center and the one-room schoolhouse located next to the center. The theme of the 11th annual exhibit is “Unto Us A Son Is Given.” Admission is free and open to the public. Historic Kirtland is located at 7800 Kirtland-Chardon Road, just off Route 306 south of I-90.
The exhibit is presented annually by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Kirtland Stake and Historic Kirtland, a restored 19th century village. The village grounds are decorated in more than 100,000 lights.
Elder Robert Sorenson, director of Historic Kirtland, said a Nativity scene from Jerusalem is displayed on the main floor of the Visitors Center.
“It is specially hand-carved from olive wood from Jerusalem and shipped here for the exhibit,” Sorenson said.
The exhibit also features an 8-foot-long sculpture of the Holy Family by world-reknown sculptor and artist Norbert Kohen of South Euclid and a Croation Nativity originally created by a refugee in an Austrian camp at the end of World War II. A miniature Nativity exhibit features examples of primitive art and incredibly detailed paintings and carvings. There is also an exhibit of antique foreign and hand-made Christmas cards and an international Nativity stamp collection.
Of special interest to families with young children is the Children’s Room where the youngest visitors can enjoy child-friendly Nativities, dress up in costume and join a child-sized Nativity scene for a photo and an “I Spy” seek and find activity.
Sorenson said the exhibit will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays. (Closed Christmas Day.) Throughout the holiday season there will be musical performances 7 to 7:30 p.m. each Friday and Saturday. There is no charge to view the exhibit or visit the historical buildings in the 1800s village. In addition to the Visitors Center and the schoolhouse, there is the Newel K. Whitney Store and the Whitney Home, Johnson Inn, a working sawmill and ashery.
For more information call the Visitors Center at (440) 256-9805, or online: www.kirtlandchristmas.com