Ellicott City: Glen Mar UM Church gearing up for its Walk to Bethlehem

Some people think October is a too early to start thinking about Christmas, but not at Glen Mar United Methodist Church, where preparations for its annual Walk to Bethlehem are in full swing.

Now in its fifth year, the free event attracts 1,500 visitors a year to an indoor and outdoor extravaganza in celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.

Walk to Bethlehem guests are treated to a guided tour through several outdoor Bible scenes that enact the events leading to and immediately following the Messiah's birth. The scenes are meant to give guests the feeling of being transported back to the time of Jesus with a bevy of period costumed actors and live animals.

The star of the story is, of course, baby Jesus, who is played by a real infant.

All the costumes are handmade each year by dozens of talented parishioners like Adrienne Taylor.

"There is a whole team of volunteers organizing, distributing, repairing and producing costumes every year. We also make a number of child sized costumes so families can volunteer together," Taylor said.

After the outdoor tour, guests are invited inside the church to hear Christmas songs performed by the Glen Mar choir, to witness a temple scene where Simeon declares Jesus an offering without blemish to cover the sins of the world, and to experience an interactive marketplace scene where artists spin pottery wheels, jugglers perform, thieves scavenge for money and musicians play period music.

The Walk to Bethlehem is a mammoth undertaking that necessitates almost year-round planning and requires the help of about 250 Glen Mar church members and friends.

The church grounds are wheelchair and stroller friendly and contain ample free parking. Reservations for bus groups can be made by calling Margaret Prechtl at 410-465-4995 ext. 204 by Nov. 27.

The 2012 Walk to Bethlehem will be held Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, Nov. 30, Dec. 1 and 2. No reservations are needed, guests can arrive anytime between 5 and 8 p.m. For more information, contact the church at 410-465-4995 or go to the church website at http://www.glenmarumc.org.

Turf Valley resident Kevin Powell would like to invite the community to the Turf Valley Overlook Community Association's annual Halloween parade on Wednesday, Oct. 24, at 7 p.m.

The parade starts at Dunes Lane and Nestling Pines and winds its way through the Turf Valley Overlook neighborhood. The parade will include the sights and sounds of the Marriotts Ridge Marching Band and Poms, plus bFunk studio dancers.

The 2012 Gary J. Arthur Memorial Golf Tournament raised $13,000 for The Arc of Howard County, thanks to the generosity of 80 golfers and sponsors Wegmans (title sponsor), Monster Energy/ Coca-Cola Enterprises, Ourisman Automotive Group, Body Armor Super Energy Drink, Snapple, Denis O'Donovan and Environmental Systems Associates.

All the money raised will benefit The Arc's employment and residential support, respite care, and other programs and services for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Team Environmental Systems Associates (Michael Hendricks, Ben Clements, Doug Wilson and Marco DePalma) was the tournament first place winner. Team VW Brown (Jim Geisbert, Jeff Strovel, Sean Denny and Kenny Lazorchak) won second place. Third place winner was Team Merrill Lynch (Peter Della-Croce, A.J. Leimenstoll, Jed Castlebaum and Jim Ellis).

Sean Denny won the Closest to the Pin competition. Longest Drive winners were Randy Gailey of Von Paris and Darlena Ringley of Canada Dry Potomac. For information about The Arc of Howard County go to their website at http://www.archoward.org.

The public is invited to attend the St John's Community Association's Howard County Board of Education Candidates Debate at the Miller Library on Tuesday, Oct. 23, at 6:30 p.m.

"This is an important debate as more than 60 percent of your tax dollars in Howard County go to education," said association member Diane Bulter. The program starts promptly at 6:30 p.m., since the library closes at 9 p.m.

The Dancel Family Center YMCA is hosting its 8th annual Food and Wine Tasting, Thursday, Oct. 18, from 6 to 9 p.m., at the center, 4331 Montgomery Road. The fundraiser includes food samples from local restaurants, wines from around the world, fun auction items and raffles and live music featuring the Mt. Hebron High school's string quartet.

All proceeds benefit the Y's Safe Place for Kids campaign, providing Y experiences to children and families in need. Tickets are $40 for Y members and $60 for non-members. To purchase tickets, go to ymaryland.org/8th-annual-dancel-family-center-y-food-wine-tasting.

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