PANAMA CITY BEACH Fla. (WMBB) – Community members gathered at Captain Anderson’s Marina Wednesday for a holiday tradition.

It’s the first of four nights of the Bethlehem Christmas Village. 

Captain Anderson’s Marina’s Marketing Coordinator Chelsea Ray said the goal of this event is to remember what Christmas is truly about. 

“We are really excited about this event because we just think it is so important for the community to know the reason for the season,” Ray said. 

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It teleports you back to ancient Bethlehem and to learn the story of Jesus Christ’s birth in a unique way. 

“You’re going to actually get to meet with every biblical character starting with Isaiah so he is going to tell you his part that he played that evening all the way through to the angels and drummer boys,” Ray said.

Each character tells their story then hands you a page to a coloring book. When finished, the book will include the entire Christmas story. 

The Bethlehem Christmas Village features performances from local school and church music groups, and a petting zoo for kids. 

Attendees could also watch a live nativity performance including songs, animals, and props. 

Vendors lined the lot for people to browse and buy. Some sell holiday gifts others like Gatherings by Jennifer selling bigger items for a good cause.

“We are here to help out and raise money for children’s advocacy,” said owner Jennifer Hall. “This year we are selling Christmas trees. It’s about just bringing joy and happiness. Sometimes it’s not what you have but it’s what you can give.”

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Event organizers are also taking donations of food or toys. Each night these donations will go to different local non-profits like the Panama City Rescue Mission, Scottish Rite Foundation, and the St. Andrews Baptist Church Center of Hope. 

Vendor Annie Wachtfeitl said this event is truly a spiritual experience. She said it is a time to remember what the holiday season is about. 

“It’s not all about Santa Claus and the presents,” said Wachtfeitl. “Christ is my present.”

The Bethlehem Christmas Village will run until Saturday from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Captain Anderson’s Marina.