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Their set for life

Retired duo work together to build Bethlehem Village to host a re-creation of the birth of Jesus.

November 28, 2007|By Joyce Rudolph

Dave Herman and Ed Chambers have their work cut out for them.

Over the summer, the duo have been upgrading the sets used last year for Bethlehem Village at First Presbyterian Church in Burbank.

The second annual event will again feature a re-creation of what Bethlehem might have been like at the time of Jesus’ birth, said Ann-Marie Murrell, event director.


Visitors who register with the census takers at the entrance of the village receive gold coins to spend at the marketplace, where every half-hour, actors recreate the Nativity scene.

Herman and Chambers are members of the church and meet once a week as the Wednesday Men, a group of retired men who make repairs at the church.

Herman, a Glendale resident, and Chambers, of Burbank, built 4-by-8 panels out of thin plywood that were fastened together by a frame.

“They built two huge new sets and doors and windows, so it’s all going to be much more realistic and 3D,” Murrell said.

The panels were painted to make them look like stone, Chambers said.

Last year, they had only two months to build the backdrops, so over the summer they had more time to remake several of them.

“We made three more panels this year, two doors and one window,” Chambers said. “This will be the inn and the manger. Dave is working on an old-style vise, which holds the stock.” We don’t know what Joseph used.”

Herman’s main task last year was an important piece of furniture, he said.

“I made the manger, the crib for the Baby Jesus, out of plywood and stained it all,” he said.

Murrell was pleased with the outcome.

“I couldn’t ask for anything more authentic,” she said. “There were no nail holes. It was done with tongue and groove. There was nothing modern. It was done very much the way it would have been. It was basically just a trough for animals.”

In the marketplace, there are several shops and services — including a bakery, carpentry shop and an ornament-making shop. So this year, Herman is making signs to identify each.

“Last year, we had cardboard signs,” Herman said. “This year we are making them out of redwood and creating letters with a router. Then we are painting the letters in the grooves.”

Herman and Chambers will be in the carpentry shop showing visitors how to make wooden stools with three legs.

“This year, I’m trying to create a vise that would depict what was typical of the era,” he said.

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