RICKREALL -- Chad Woods, a Dallas resident, has played "head shepherd" -- in the same four scenes -- in the Rickreall Christmas Pageant for nearly 25 years.
Longstanding involvement such as that -- Woods isn't the only cast member or organizer who has been in the show for decades -- is part of what makes the pageant such a lasting tradition.
"It does cause people to be reflective of earlier times in their lives," said Woods, who is also on the pageant's board of directors. "And, also, the story is enduring."
The script simply follows the Biblical story of Jesus' birth, accompanied by traditional Christmas carols.
First staged in 1938, and each year after (except for a few years during World War II), the pageant marks the beginning of the Christmas season for many -- and serves as a reminder of how the holiday began.
"It's become to symbolize Christmas for me," Woods said. "It takes me back -- not only to previous Christmases in my life, but 2000 years ago."
Woods said the manger scene is the most powerful for him.
"There's one little part in there where it almost feels like I've been there ... when as the shepherds are leaving, I turn around and take a long look at the baby Jesus," he said.
The pageant will once again tell the tale of the first Christmas this week beginning Thursday at the Rickreall Event Hall -- the very stage the first cast performed on in 1938.
Little has changed since the pageant began. The script is the same and even some of the stage props are original. Woods said the cast has featured multiple generations of the same families over the years, including his own. Those traditions have made it strong, Woods said.
"I think as long as we have some place to hold it, it would continue," he said. "In our busy lives, it's one of the few times during the year we get to reconnect with people in the community."
A Christmas Story
The Rickreall Christmas Pageant.
Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 8 p.m.
Rickreall Event Hall, 300 Main St. (Highway 99W), Rickreall.
Free, but tickets are required (donations are accepted). Ticket requests can be made by calling 503-623-0958 or by visiting www.RickreallChristmasPageant.com.
For more information: