Nativity scene in Big Spring Park represents what the Tinsel Trail was originally missing

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Huntsville's Tinsel Trail is ready for you to enjoy with family and friends, or for a quiet walk after a long workday.  It boasts a forest of 300-plus trees, decorated by local organizations that light up Big Spring Park.

But three years ago, one Huntsville man noticed something was missing and introduced a piece that now also has a permanent home in Big Spring Park during the holidays.

"It's such a wonderful thing, to be able to come down here, we enjoy the skating rink, the lights, it's just a great thing the city's done," said Dr. Joseph Hicks, a member of First Baptist Church in Huntsville.

One day three years ago Dr. Hicks was walking through the trail his wife, Cathy, and a young girl Cathy had been tutoring. The couple asked the girl if she knew the story behind why we celebrate Christmas. The girl didn’t, so Hicks looked around for something he could use as an illustration. He saw lights, decorated trees, an ice skating rink, but one thing was missing: There was nothing around that told the story of Jesus’ birth.

"I started looking around to find a representative of the whole Christmas story and the beginning of why we celebrate this holiday, and I just couldn't locate anything at that time," Hicks said. "I said, 'Well let me sit down and tell you...and I used one of these fish, that were in the little pool to illustrate the animals that came to the stable that night."

In the coming weeks Dr. Hicks worked with members of his church to create a representation of the birth of Jesus Christ, and three years later the Nativity scene remains a crucial part of the Tinsel Trail's holiday splendor.

The Nativity scene overlooking Big Spring Park actually represents the end of a journey that starts on the other side of the cliffs with the wise men gazing up at the stars, wondering about the heavens. It's part of a multi-year plan that will incorporate the manger scene in a larger context, telling the story of the holy family's journey to Bethlehem.

"Our contribution is just to add a little bit of historical background," Hicks said.  "And if you are of religious inclination, it brings a whole other element of worship and wonder."

This year’s Nativity includes some special features:

Dec. 17-23 (6:00-9:00 p.m.): Get refreshed at the Oasis. Grab a signature cup of hot chocolate and snacks before you walk through the Tinsel Trail.

Dec. 20-21 (5:00-8:30 p.m.): The “Corral” petting zoo. Bring the kids to get pictures made with the animals and shepherds from the Nativity scene.

Dec. 19-22 (7:00 p.m.): Enjoy live Christmas music sure to get you in the Christmas spirit.

Admission: Free