2017 Richmond Nativity Pageant canceled

2017 Richmond Nativity Pageant canceled

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The show won't go on for the Richmond Nativity Pageant in Byrd Park this Christmas.

After nearly 90 years of performances, the play is canceled this year because of construction at the Carillion.

For one night, Byrd Park is transformed into the little town of Bethlehem, as Richmonders dress as angels and shepherds re-live the birth of Jesus Christ.

"It makes it Christmas. It's the reason for the season. It's a great Christmas tradition," said Vicki Miller.

The play is performed near Miler's home each year, so she was disappointed to learn it was canceled this year.

"It was very spiritual. Really family oriented, children of all ages, adults of all ages. It really made you get in the Christmas spirit," she said.

Three hundred people volunteer to work on the pageant, and thousands attend the performance each year. Some families, like pageant director Paige Quilter's, have been involved for generations.

"This is one of the oldest Christmas traditions in Richmond," Quilter said.

Other than a four-year hiatus during WWII, quilter said the pageant has only been canceled a handful of times - all because of bad weather - since it was first performed on the steps of the State Capital in 1924.

The Carillon is undergoing renovations to be complete for the 100th anniversary of WWI next year.

"It's great for the building. It's just not so happy for us," said Quilter.

Quilter says pageant organizers looked for an alternate venue for the pageant, even considering Dogwood Dell; however, she says the set pieces are designed for the Carillion and would not fit in other spaces.

"We know you're disappointed, but please, please join us next year," she said.

Copyright 2017 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.