Don't Steal Baby Jesus: Sorority Solves Theft Problem
Nine years ago, a Eureka Springs woman named Virginia Voiers accepted a dare on her 70th birthday to steal the baby Jesus from the nativity scene in the Basin Park bandshell. The theft, which was discovered, resulted in the city of Eureka Springs filing charges against Voiers, who had to appear in court, and provided fodder for newspapers around the country.
Voiers returned the baby Jesus, but it's not the one in the manger this Christmas.
"We got it back; then it was stolen again," Nancy Wharton said.
Wharton is a member of Xi Alpha Nu, the local chapter of Beta Sigma Phi sorority. Founded in Eureka Springs in 1950, the chapter began the tradition of putting up a nativity scene in the Basin Park band shell that first year.
According to Mary Beckely, the first year the figures were cardboard. The life-sized figures of Mary, Joseph and the baby, three wise men, a shepherd and numerous animals are now of composite and are very expensive to buy. Some have been replaced due to wear, but they've had to replace baby Jesus so many times, sorority members said, that the company that makes the figures commented.
"They said 'You've bought more baby Jesuses than anyone else in the country,'" said Shirley Bird.
So the sorority members decided to do something about the problem. While they aren't willing to discuss the details, they want everyone to know that the nativity figures are not only protected by a security system connected to the police station, but that anyone who touches the baby Jesus is in for a shock.
"Just don't try to come in and steal it," Nancy Wharton said.
Before the security system was installed, the baby Jesus was abducted numerous times, Bonnie Willard said. Once, it was stolen by a teenager who was visiting from Kansas City. When his mother found the figure in his room, she contacted the sorority and sent it back to Eureka.
Sorority members also aren't willing to divulge the place where they store the figures during the year. The sorority has a dozen members, who live in Missouri, Eureka Springs, Holiday Island and Beaver Lake. They enlist the aid of husbands to transport and set up the nativity scene every year.