This holiday season, there's more than just Santa Claus and shopping at the Crossroads Mall.
A storefront next to Sears appears dark from the outside, and is covered by a curtain. But it's not closed. Visitors who peer through the translucent mesh will spot a familiar scene of a young couple and their infant in a stable.
Shirley Seagren, co-owner of Stone Creek Landscape and Nursery, created the life-sized nativity scene to remind people of the real reason for Christmas, she said.
-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
Shirley Seagren, left, and Andrea Ortner make sure baby Jesus is properly swaddled at the nativity scene now on display at the Crossroads Mall next to Sears. The manger is in a dim room that suggests the setting of ancient Bethlehem.
The lighting and design of the room would suggest visitors are walking back in time to a small town, there finding the baby in a cave.
"Back then they didn't have stables, you know. He was born in a cave," Seagren said. "When they come in, we want them to get the feel they're walking into Bethlehem."
With the lights low, and the curtain subduing the glow from the mall, the room appears totally dark at first. Soon, however, visitors can make out its details.
A life-sized shepherd stands to one side with his sheep. The floor is green and covered with straw. Simple clay pots decorate the space. Surrounding false walls are painted to look like aged stone.
Seagren and employees from Stone Creek spent about eight days putting together the scene. Sandy Fletcher, of Cabinetry by Fletcher, helped design it.
"I collect nativity scenes, and for whatever reason I felt compelled to do this," Seagren said. "I just felt it was something I wanted to do. I needed to do."
She said, "We've lost the real reason for Christmas, and I guess I wanted to bring it back to what we really need to be thankful for, and the blessings that we have."
Stone Creek is a faith-based business, Seagren said, "so this just goes down another road of what Stone Creek is about."
The straw was provided by Stable Connections, a Fort Dodge nonprofit that provides equine therapy and learning exercises.
Seagren was inspired by the film "The Nativity Story."
"There's a scene where Joseph is desperately looking for a place to stay, because Mary is about to have the baby. Finally, this shepherd says, 'The only thing I have is this cave,'" she said, gesturing to the nativity's shepherd.
There is no charge to view the scene, but Seagren said a freewill collection that will help people who need homes.
"We just ask for people to make a donation," she said, "and that will be for Habitat for Humanity."