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December 2, 2010 | 12:00 a.m. CST
For more than three quarters of a century, First Christian Church has put on its annual Christmas pageant. Although it takes an entire community to put on a pageant filled with wise men, angels and baby Jesus, it takes just one man, Jimmy Spear, to coordinate that community. As associate minister of First Christian Church, his job includes directing the church’s annual Christmas pageant.
What are your responsibilities?
Organizing kids’ choirs, recruiting the wise men, shepherds, angels, Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus.
NAME: Jimmy Spear
COMO RESIDENT SINCE: 2007
AT JOB SINCE: 2007
How do you find people to fill those roles?
I seek them out through the church, and some of them are volunteers. Fifth-grade boys and their fathers are always the shepherds. The senior girls always play angels. Three men from the church, of any age, play the wise men. Mary, Joseph and Jesus are always people who had a baby in either October or November.
What is your favorite pageant tradition?
I think it would be that we use a live baby as opposed to a doll. Wait, no, scratch that. The best thing is seeing the three wise men in full garb singing for the first time while they walk in. It’s impressive. Also, the spirit it generates in people — it’s why Christmas is here.
Do you have a favorite piece of music from the pageant?
“We Three Kings,” which the kings sing while entering. The choir sings, and the congregation sings. It’s just really neat.
How do you manage people with such a wide age gap?
People want to be a part of it. It’s one of the most exciting things we do together. People are always willing to be a part of it and know their roles. It’s tradition, they’ve been in it, and their parents were in it when they were kids.
Did you perform in any pageants as a child?
No. My first experience with the Christmas pageant was coming to this church.
What is the most stressful part of the job?
Getting the three wise men to sing while walking in. It’s the most impressive, but it’s difficult getting three grown men to walk in and sing while holding the gold, frankincense and myrrh.
What is the most rewarding part of the job?
Probably involving people, young and old, in the spirit of Christmas and sharing the story of Christmas.
Do you have a fond memory as director of the pageant?
Seeing the preschool angels waving to their parents while singing “Away in a Manger.”
Has this job taught you anything about yourself?
You can never start preparing too early. Dates sneak up on you.
What is it like for parents watching their children in the pageant?
Unspeakable joy. I’m not a parent, so it’s hard to say, but I think they’re glad their children are involved with such a great tradition and participating in the Christmas story. And they’re pretty angelic. They really get to see them shine.
What is your favorite pageant-related story?
It’s not so much a story, but I always think it’s funny to see a kid walking around and finding out they were the baby Jesus. Or you’ll see someone who is 50 years old, and they’ll say, “I was the baby Jesus once.”
What are you looking forward to most on the night of the show?
It has to be the tasting party reception after the show is over. We have a cookie and hors d’oeuvres reception with fellowships. We have a job well done, and now on to dessert.
Is there some outrageous occurrence that has happened during a pageant?
It’s always interesting getting the 4-year-old angels to stand in one place for a while and sing in unison. They can get pretty ornery.