April 07, 2020

BMHI invites public to enjoy live Nativity pageant

Right on the front lawn at Bangor Mental Health Institute is where you will be able to enjoy a live Nativity at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 8, on the BMHI campus at 656 State St. in Bangor.

“It actually takes place on a ledge overlooking the lawn, so lots of people can look up and see it.

“And there is parking available in the front area as well as along the road and out back,” said Michele Lowery, BMHI director of chaplaincy services and pageant organizer.

“We suggest that people come early, because we usually do have quite a turnout. We also hope people will bring their flashlights and their singing voices.”

Lowery said the Live Nativity “has become a real tradition around here.

“It’s an opportunity for many of our patients to offer hospitality to residents of the Greater Bangor area. The patients who participate are all volunteers.

“Patients often have to be put on a waiting list to participate,” she said. “They ask whether they can be in the play months before it happens because they want to volunteer to play the different biblical characters. And our narrator is also an outpatient consumer.”

For many of the patients, she continued, the Live Nativity “is an opportunity to give back to the community, or to be involved in something larger than themselves; to participate in something that is truly beautiful, and to express their faith.

“We offer it as an inspirational gift to the community.”

Lowery said the whole event is “really neat in that we have a number of staff who also volunteer their time.”

Sponsored by her chaplaincy services department, Lowery and recreational therapist Bruce Bowman co-direct the program.

“We had people from maintenance who built us a manger with a star on the top,” she said, “and, usually, we have at least two animals from area farms; at least a sheep and a donkey.”

Last year one of the sheep was bleating throughout the program and Lowery recalled the surprise in the voice of a little one in the audience blurting out, “that’s a real sheep!”

Lowery said that “as the program unfolds, different biblical characters come on the scene at the appropriate times, and the narration is interspersed with carols. The biblical story is told; the New Renaissance Singers perform and direct the gathered people in carol singing, she said.

While letters have been mailed to churches encouraging members of their congregations, especially children, to come to the pageant, Lowery wants to be sure the general public also is aware of the program.

“We enjoy it, and we want to offer it to others to see and experience, no matter what the weather,” she said.

She recalled that her first year with the pageant she was “a nervous wreck” wondering whether “we could pull this off,” she said.

“We had no snow up until the day of the event, Dec. 6; and I kept saying just wait, we’ll arrange for it to snow. It started snowing 30 minutes before the pageant. It was just magical.”

The United Way of Eastern Maine Campaign Finale is 5-7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 6, at the Snow & Nealley Showroom on Summer Street in Bangor.

WLBZ-2 television news anchor Ric Tyler will host the event, during which an Orono High School quartet will perform.

Campaign Chair Deborah Carey Johnson will preside over the announcement of the total raised toward the $2.6 million goal and unveil a quilt representing the UWEM partner agencies.

Awards will also be presented, including the Second Annual Irene Gray award for a volunteer who has demonstrated outstanding commitment and support for the annual campaign.

Last year, more than 200 community volunteers distributed the funds raised to 72 health and human service agencies in Hancock, Penobscot, Piscataquis, Waldo and Washington counties.

Once again the Hampden Academy Boosters are offering you an opportunity to have a freshly cut balsam fir tree in your home for the holidays.

The HA Boosters Second Annual Christmas Tree Sale is 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9, and Sunday, Dec. 10, at the Hampden Academy parking lot on the Main Road in Hampden.

Tree prices range $20-$25 and can be pre-ordered through any HA student, organization or athlete; or you can obtain an order form at the HA main office.

Students of HA organizations and teams benefit directly from the proceeds of this fund-raiser.

For more information, or to place an order, call Judy Gamble at 862-4005.

Since 1969, the Pine Tree Society for Handicapped Children & Adults has sold holiday cards to support its programs and services, and this year is no exception.

The 2000 collection offers Sandy Crabtree’s painting of Pemaquid Lighthouse and Consuelo Eames Hanks’ village scene featuring the old Jefferson Mill.

And, for the first time, Pine Tree Society holiday cards can be ordered on-line at www.pinetreesociety.org. You can also order them by calling 443-3341, or purchase them at any PTS location.

Joni Averill, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402; 990-8288.

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