Community members surprised to see a Christmas tree in place of a nativity scene usually erected at the corner of South Fraser Way and Clearbrook Road, may still see the well-known display elsewhere.
Though the nativity became a popular Christmas display in Abbotsford, much of the community remained unaware of who put it up.
The display was purchased by the Braun family, including now-city councillor Henry Braun, who said that before he started working as a councillor, his family would be forwarded a letter of thanks that had been sent to city hall, mistaking the scene as a city initiative.
The Brauns are the former owners of Clearbrook Plaza, where the scene was displayed at a fountain on the corner. Braun said the figures – which are three-quarter-sized statues – were designed by a company that was involved in movie productions.
“They tried to capture the scene from a biblical perspective… It took them two or three months to do all the research.”
After the initial figures were made, the family provided maintenance of the nativity and added a figure each year, ultimately creating a set that included Jesus, Mary and Joseph, as well as the three wise men, shepherds, an angel, animals and more within a barn-like structure.
The family first erected the nativity in 2001 and continued for nearly a decade. At that time the property was sold, though to whom, Braun is not contractually allowed to disclose. He said the nativity was sold along with the property, as it was a gift to the tenants and the community.
The new owners of the Clearbrook Plaza put up the display for two years, but didn’t this year due to the expense.
Braun said it generally costs about $20,000 to set up and take down the nativity.
“I know it was a cost, but for us it was just a gift to the community.”
When the property sold, Braun asked to be notified if the display was not going to go up. He said at the beginning of December he was told by the property managers that would be the case this season. He began to inquire about finding the nativity a new home, and a local church has now expressed interest in displaying the nativity this Christmas.
Braun said he is optimistic that a solution can be found soon.
(Above photo: A Christmas tree has been put up at Clearbrook Plaza in place of a well-known nativity display.)