MANATEE -- You can watch 10-year-old Mary ride to Bethlehem on a donkey, hear a 4-year-old shepherd belt out a line, enjoy a petting zoo, grab a free piece of Hungry Howie's pizza, and even catch a glimpse of Charlie Brown at Bradenton's 59th Street YMCA.
The YMCA's backyard will be transformed at 5 p.m., Dec. 13, when Harbor Community Church displays its unique re-enactment of the first Christmas.
Last year, about 150 people showed up to experience the all-children cast spread Christmas joy under a Bradenton sky.
Some Harbor members called last year's play "a miracle" because Harbor, a start-up church that meets at the Y, had only seven child members. Yet somehow it managed to field a cast of 21.
This year, the entire cast returned along with 15 new recruits.
Not only went smoothly during the first staging a year ago. The props nearly blew over last year, the donkey pooped on stage and it almost rained, but many said "it was the best Christmas pageant ever!"
This year 36 children backed by a music team will perform for an audience looking for a miracle on 59th Street.
"The real story of Christmas is what it's all about," Harbor Church Pastor Geoff Henderson, who reports the church has almost doubled in size since April 2014.