Lights, Camera, Christmas! Parade float is scene within scene

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Jody Bascou and Susie Paul of Beaver Lake started working on a float for the Christmas Parade of Lights in September. For the base, Jody bought a 20-foot trailer, erected a stable entrance across the front, and installed a manger, a donkey and three rows of seats. Her sister, Susie, made costumes for Mary, Joseph, Gabriel, three Wise Men and four angels, plus beards for the Wise Men. She is now working on costumes for the shepherds who will circle the float in a golf cart.

"They're our extras," she said.

Jody and Susie, with help from members of Beaver Lake Baptist Church, are producing "The Nativity Story" to enter in the Nov. 30 Christmas Parade of Lights. Following the parade's theme, "A Silver Screen Christmas," the float is not just a nativity scene, but a scene of "The Nativity Story" being filmed by a crew, complete with director, camera operators and clappers.

"The camera crew will be filming out of the back doors of the tow vehicle," Jody said.

Jody, who retired from Intel, is an experienced hand at float-building -- she worked for 25 years with the team that builds floats for Sacramento's Christmas parades and the city's Rose Parade entry. Susie is an artist who handles the costumes and artwork. For the angel Gabriel, who will be played by Jack Baker, Susie created a costume with wings of gold feathers. Baker and Wylie Nolan helped Jody build the float, and other church members ironed costumes.

"We work as a team," Jody said.

"And we have a lot of fun," Susie said.

Mike Mercer, the church pastor, will play the director, using a megaphone to direct the scene. Extras will circle the float in a golf cart, waiting for their call, while other shepherds walk the route, passing out paint-it-yourself ornaments to children. The Wise Men and angels will provide the sound track, playing "Silent Night" and "Away in a Manger" on handbells as they roll along.

"They'll be strings of star lights hanging on the back," Jody said.

The sisters, who are paying all costs of the float, moved to Beaver Lake in 2010 after traveling the country for two years in a fifth wheeler. They've now downsized to a C-class recreational vehicle, and plan to continue to travel from their base at Beaver Lake. But next September, another Christmas float will begin to take shape in the metal outbuilding on their property.

"We've already got an idea for next year," Susie said. "We just need to know what the theme is."

The Eureka Springs Christmas Parade of Lights is Nov. 30 at 6 p.m. For more information, contact the Eureka Springs Chamber of Commerce.

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