Guinness World Record for largest Nativity scene set in Provo
PROVO — As the sun was getting ready to set Monday in northeast Provo, hundreds of people dressed in white were bathed in its glow. Oh, and add in a camel, donkey and a couple of sheep.
It broke a Guinness World Record for the most living figures in a Nativity scene.
Officially, there were 1,039 participants in the scene. The previous record was 898.
“It was set in Lancashire in the United Kingdom in December 2013,” said Michael Empric, an adjudicator for Guinness World Records.
He was in attendance to verify the numbers and make it official.
Derral Eves, one of the producers, said it has been only about three and a half weeks since several people decided to attempt to break the record.
“We wanted to do it simply to show the world what Christmas is all about,” Eves said. “It is not all the presents, but it is about the true gift of Christmas — Jesus Christ.”
They got the idea of doing the live Nativity scene and began preparations.
“Within 12 hours we had a plan,” he said. And they got a lot of help.
“I truly believe that Heavenly Father had his hand in all this,” he said.
The response they had is enough to make a believer of almost anyone.
“To break the world record we needed to be over 900,” Eves said. “We had roughly 1,800 sign up.”
And they needed costumes.
There were about 50 families involved with sewing those costumes. Shepherds, angels and worshippers wore a lot of white, and many of those costumes were trimmed with battery-powered lights.
“Professional seamstresses were bidding on the job,” Valerie Harmon said. “I gathered a group together and we got the bid. It was sort of like an old-fashioned community sewing bee.”
The week before Thanksgiving, when many turn their thoughts to turkey and pie, these families thought about seams and hems.
They purchased wide fabric from an upholstery shop to minimize the amount of cutting involved. They distributed the cut pieces to send home with those doing the sewing.
“One sewed 74 or 75,” Harmon said. “It was so neat to be part of it.”
She said one of the most interesting parts for her was watching a woman training youthful helpers how to make the costumes.
There were numerous other details to be included in the effort. One example is numbered wristbands to count the participants as they entered a fenced-off area prior to the scene.
Social media was a big help to get the many volunteers organized to play their various parts. They came from all over.
“We had this amazing experience,” Eves said. “We have seen blessings left and right. One guy drove all the way down from Montana to participate. He is a Catholic. It shows that multiple faiths can come together to show their love.”
Nathan Hutson is that Catholic who is going to school in Bozeman, Mont., and came to participate.
“I came down here yesterday after reading a post on Facebook about this event,” he said. “I was going to be an extra but found they needed volunteers. I came down to help test equipment Saturday. They asked me about my YouTube channel.”
He said he felt impressed to be here.
“I felt the spirit deep inside,” he said. “I felt that power I have never felt before. It was a gut feeling I needed to address. Through volunteering I was going to get that opportunity to meet somebody.”
After the Nativity scene, several YouTube musicians got together to create a video that will air Dec. 13. Hutson will join David Archuleta, The Piano Guys, Peter Hollens, Alex Boye, Stuart Edge, the Shaytards, Devin Supertramp, Kid History, Cute Girl Hairstyles and some members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
Hutson is a violinist, but not your typical one. He started playing when he was in the fourth grade. When he started high school he began challenging himself and combined his classical training with popular music.
He praised the live Nativity scene.
“The fact that this is an interfaith event is absolutely wonderful,” he said. “It allows everyone to say — despite our differences in religion we are all celebrating the birth of Christ. We want to keep Christ in Christmas.”
He said he was happy to spend time in Utah.
“I have never been exposed to so much positive attitude before,” he said. “It is a wonderful feeling.”
Local singer Boye agreed with Hutson’s assessment. Boye portrayed a wise man in the Nativity scene.
“It is amazing,” he said. “It is such a blessing to be a part of this. I got a phone call and they asked me if I would be interested. I jumped at it.”
The attempt will be made into a YouTube video airing Dec. 13 as part of the ShareTheGift holiday campaign. It will feature not only the record-breaking Nativity scene, but music from the artists.