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A sign of the season: Bethlehem Walk returns to Cold Springs

By Jessica Nyznik, The Peterborough Examiner

Chloe McIntosh, dressed as Mary, rides a donkey led by Billie McIntosh, playing Joseph, during a test run of the Bethlehem Walk at Cold Springs Memorial Hall in Cold Springs on Thursday, November 9, 2017. The Bethlehem Walk takes place Nov. 17 to 19. JESSICA NYZNIK/Peterborough Examiner/Postmedia Network

Chloe McIntosh, dressed as Mary, rides a donkey led by Billie McIntosh, playing Joseph, during a test run of the Bethlehem Walk at Cold Springs Memorial Hall in Cold Springs on Thursday, November 9, 2017. The Bethlehem Walk takes place Nov. 17 to 19. JESSICA NYZNIK/Peterborough Examiner/Postmedia Network

COLD SPRINGS - The Bethlehem Walk returns to Cold Springs next weekend, marking the beginning of Christmas for many of its annual attendees.

The Bethlehem Walk is an interactive recreation of the story of Christmas.

It takes place at the Cold Springs Memorial Hall on Burnham St. N. in Cold Springs. It runs Nov. 17 to 19, from 5 to 8 p.m. each night. Cold Springs in located in Hamilton Township, south of Bewdley.

The production involves more than 400 volunteers and the cast includes wise men, soldiers, shepherds, choir angels, Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus. (There are live animals, too).

Visitors walk through the recreation, making their way from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, following in the footsteps of Mary and Joseph on Christmas Eve.

The walk sees up to 1,400 visitors each year, and for many, it's the start of the Christmas season.

"To most people, it's not Christmas until they've been to the Bethlehem Walk," said Tina Hartwick, Bethlehem Walk team lead.

Hartwick is also one of the walk's guides. She said spectators are "awed" when they see the production.

She also notices visitors' shoulders drop as they let go of their stress and enjoy an evening outdoors.

"In this busy, rush-rush everyday world, I think this harkens back to a simpler time of going to the town hall as families," she said.

After the walk, visitors are treated to a wagon ride, where they're taken up a hill to look down on the twinkling lights that make up the Bethlehem Walk.

Then it's time for hot drinks and refreshments in the hall, made by community members.

Hartwick said the event provides a sense of community and it's something the volunteers take great pride in. And it's not just residents of Cold Springs who help out, citizens from Port Hope, Cobourg and Castleton lend a hand, too.

Admission is free, but donations are accepted and go towards covering the costs of the event.

The event is outdoors, so Hartwick reminds visitors to dress appropriately.

JNyznik@postmedia.com