Grace Community Christian Church is vowing to put on its annual popular Christmas event, “Journey to Bethlehem” despite the fact that a thief made off with a trailer used to store over 200 costumes for the occasion.
The theft took place sometime between August 20 and August 24.
“I feel like I’ve been hit in the stomach,” said Journey event director Tamara Hott. “I have a knot in my stomach. We’re 90 days away from Journey starting and this is not something we wanted to deal with right before the kickoff.”
"Journey to Bethlehem" is a guided live walking tour from Nazareth to Bethlehem intended to recreate the journey taken by Mary and Joseph in the biblical account of the Christ child's birth.
The white four-wheel cargo trailer bears the license plate number of # 1VK4695 unless it’s been removed. Any information regarding the trailer and its whereabouts should be directed to the California Highway Patrol.
Hott found out about the theft on Sunday and her mind has been spinning about how to replace the costumes in time for the event, which starts in late November and early December.
The CHP officer who took the stolen vehicle report told the church that “the odds of finding it are slim to none,” said Hott. He told church representatives to send out word to area farmers to be on the lookout for the contents dumped in orchards or fields.
The trailer is a WLCRG make with two doors that open in the back and one door that opens on the right side in the front. Hott said someone rolled onto the church property on Service Road, hooked up the trailer and took off. The trailer was customized to store the costumes for the event, including wooden tables, shelving, closets and two clothing rods. It was also wired for electricity.
“It took about 10 to 15 years just to get what we had and so we have 90 days to get these all made up and trying to get donations to pay for all the material,” said Hott.
The church is hoping for a miracle, either a return of the trailer and costumes or the community helping out with funds or material.
“Any type of donations from fabric stores or cash donations made out to Journey (to Bethlehem) would be deeply appreciated because if I deplete the Journey fund we have now to go buy material for these costumes we won’t have Journey this year.”
Hott said the church won’t think of cancelling the event.
“We’ll make do with what we have,” she said. “The congregation will have to pull together. We’re a small little church but we’re fighters and we’re mighty and we’re not going to let anyone put this program down. Last year was our biggest year ever; we had over 15,000 people in six nights because we were able to run all six nights. The numbers keep getting bigger and we want to keep it going.”
The church bought the trailer about 10 years ago to transport fireworks booth walls to sites but in recent years was used to store the costumes.
Hott said she’s already receiving offers to help since she posted the event on Facebook.
The church already had schedule a drive-thru dinner on Oct. 6 to raise funds.
Anyone wishing to contribute or offer assistance may contact Grace Community Christian Church at 531-1902 or email Hott at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This year’s “Journey to Bethlehem” will take place Nov. 29 and 30, and Dec. 1, 6, 7 and 8.