Lottie Lights underway
Lottie Baptist Church began its sixth annual nativity performances Sunday night after dark. The nativity scene features a 15-minute performance of the traditional nativity or manger scene, complete with music.
Visitors to the church drive through – or can park and walk up – to watch the live performance from church members and several volunteers.
As part of its Christmas celebration, the church also elaborately decorates its building, shrubbery and surrounding trees with Christmas lights as part of its traditional Lottie Lights. The lights are turned on at dark and remain on until 11 p.m.
According to church secretary and longtime member Carolyn Whittington, the production began after the successful feedback from lawn statues that were places in front of the church.
"We wanted to do something a little extra for Christmas. We made some life-sized animals and then decided to put live people out there. The next year we decided to do more of a play and it just kept growing," Whittington said.
The nativity has been a success each year but as the years went on it became quite a task to produce and the church has now gone back to the basic lights and one scene play.
"It just got too big. It's church members and volunteers that put this thing on and it was getting a little rough on some of them staying out there all night. We decided to make it a little simpler," Whittington said.
The decorations are still quite a sight to see and the play is reputed to be very entertaining, enough that patrons drive from miles around to see the brief performance, including a bus load of people who showed up Sunday night from Brewton, and who promised to return for a repeat performance later in the month.
"We had a guy on the way to his wedding Sunday night drop by to see the lights and let his son see them. Now I thought, there's a guy who has his priorities right, it's his wedding but he stopped first to think of God," Whittington said.
An excerpt from one letter sent to the church from a passerby who became so enamored of the spectacle that she felt compelled to send a donation and write reads as follows: "I enjoyed your Christmas light show and play last year. We'll see you again this year." Anne Hopf, Point clear.
The lights have drawn crowds so large that the church has had to call the county for help controlling the traffic. "One year we had up to anywhere from 4,500-5,000 people. The county has had to help us with traffic some years because it gets so big," Whittington said.
The church will conduct its drive-thru nativity play from dark until 9 p.m., until Dec. 21 and will display its Lottie Lights from dark until 11 p.m., through Dec. 31. The church is located on Lottie Road.
To find the location, head north on Jack Springs Road, make a left on 3 Mile Road, a left on Hwy 47, then a left on Hwy 61. The church is immediately on the left.