The scene, a work of Henley and Judy Gray of Jasper that was constructed in 2006, came in the form of a request from several area Sunday Schools who were eager to have a replica of the famous Nativity scene brought to the downtown area.
For the Grays, the project brought a chance to create something special and unique for the community. Henley, a 40-year employee of Alabama Power who makes furniture and other crafts in his spare time was more than happy to get to work on the scene.
“It was a joy for me,” Henley said. “Once Judy had the designs drawn up, I went to work cutting it out and getting it put together.”
Judy, a homemaker and mother of five daughters who has drawn and designed for church projects throughout her life, wanted a different Nativity scene than those scenes commonly in Christmas decorations.
“There are many Nativity scenes that are fairly repetitive in their look,” Judy said. “I wanted ours to be unique. There are several hidden messages and scriptures in the design that we used. Also, there is some personal touches to it that I used. The carpenter seen in the scene is Henley and is seen as missing a finger just like Henley is. My youngest daughter is riding the camel in it. Those are the kind of images I wanted to use to speak out to people’s Christmas spirit.”
As it turns out, the Grays did not have to embark on their journey alone. The Sunday schools that requested that the scene be made furnished the wood and supplies necessary for completion and many of the family’s friends came to help in painting it.
“We approached Mayor Sonny Posey about placing it in the Courthouse Square and he was very eager to see it placed there,” Judy said. “Now every year, the city comes to get the scene and helps put it up down at the square.”
As an added bonus, ABC 33/40, whose location camera points down on the courthouse area, often shows pictures of the scene during its weather broadcasts, letting people from not only Walker County but from other parts of the state see the Grays’ work.
“We really love getting the exposure as so many people get to see how beautiful our courthouse looks during Christmas time,” Judy said.