FAIRFIELD — Kelly Newman has at least 200 favorite Nativity scenes.
She is one of a handful of volunteers who sets up crèches from around the world every Christmas at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church on Dover Avenue.
While the event is billed as showcasing more than 200 scenes, Newman is convinced there’s more.
“I bet we have 350 this year,” she said as volunteers unpacked boxes of statues representing the holy family, as well as the wise men.
This is the 10th annual Bev Orlando Memorial Crèche exhibit. The exhibit started after an elderly woman, who owned a religious article store in Palm Springs, donated 200 Nativity scenes to Orlando.
In 2003, the church hosted the first display, which featured tables pushed against the walls of what then served as the church. A church building has been built since, so the exhibit can take up the entire room and is displayed on round tables, adorned with white tablecloths and lights.
New this year is a hand-painted Nativity scene from Fatima. It is featured with another that Patrick Nyaga, the church’s associate pastor, picked up in Kenya on a trip home. It is hand-carved soapstone.
About 40 countries are represented in a variety of forms from crocheted to bamboo.
One is made from bark and twigs found on the ground of the Veterans Home in Yountville.
The holy family also takes on a variety of forms. One table is given to the whimsical – Nativity scenes with dogs, cats, bears and even rubber ducks.
Greeting visitors as they walk in the doors is the church’s first Nativity scene. The smallest is a complete scene inside a small red velvet box, shaped like a bell and the oldest is most likely a baby Jesus rescued by Orlando’s father-in-law from a New York church that caught fire.
One wall is dedicated to the “Angel Choir,” donated to the church by Helen Wiley, who was not a parishioner. She died this year.
Eileen Moatz, Orlando’s daughter, was on hand Wednesday, helping set up the display.
“I find comfort here,” she said, pointing out the Nativity scenes that belonged to her mother and father before they were married.
She remembered growing up with a variety of crèches in her home and realized that she, too, has started to gather a small collection.
Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.