DARLINGTON, S.C. — A small crowd gathered, held hands and sang Saturday evening at the corner of East Hampton and South Main streets in Darlington for the unveiling of a life-size community Nativity.

Illuminated by floodlights, the diorama of the birth of Jesus Christ plays out under a small stable on a bed of hay pretty much like organizer Gail Milling envisioned it.

“About a year ago, about this same time, I was downtown looking at all the lights thinking about how beautiful Darlington looked and I said, it’s like the Lord nudged me in my head and he said, ‘Where’s baby Jesus?’ “ Milling said as she and several volunteers arranged the hay and made last-minute adjustments to the display.

“And I thought, where is Lord Jesus?” she said. “I couldn’t get that thought out of my mind; I know that was the Holy Spirit.”

Milling said she wanted a life-size setup, which wasn’t easy to find as not many are available.

“This was the only one we could find that was life-size,” she said.

From there it became a true community effort.

“By asking people for money, a lot of people gave money. We asked people to help build a stable, and a lot of people came out to build the stable,” Milling said.

She said that to prevent the community display from falling victim to mischief or vandalism, there are two security cameras trained on it at all times.

She said the current plan is to deploy the scene on the weekend after Thanksgiving moving forward.

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