Delmont Pilgrimage adds children's version for this December

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Nov. 19—Last year, the Delmont Pilgrimage marked a half-century of bringing the Nativity story to life through a series of live-action vignettes, staged at Shields Farm.

But feedback from attendees got organizers thinking about adding a new aspect to the event.

"People suggested some updates to make it more modern or more relatable," said Pilgrimage committee member Amanda Bank Steele of Delmont.

Committee member Denni Grassel's grandchildren also played a role in the debut of this year's "Pilgrimage Jr.," a version of the story geared more towards a younger demographic.

"Denni's daughter-in-law had expressed some hesitation about bringing the grandchildren, because it's a somber event," said committee member Carla Stewart of Penn Township.

"For little kids, staying quiet and somber for the whole walk is not always in their capability," Steele said. "So we started looking for a way to get the experience across in a more interactive way."

"Pilgrimage Jr.," for which a limited number of tickets are still available, will allow young participants to talk with the Nativity characters, ask questions, and pet the shepherds' sheep.

Afterward, they will head to the Delmont Public Library for a craft project led by staff from Cornerstone Ministries in Murrysville.

"I'm a teacher at PA Virtual Charter School, so adapting something like this for kids really hit home for me," Steele said. "I spent part of my summer with a couple other people creating the eight scenes we're going to have, what characters and what props we're going to need."

Adding a whole new event, however, has required additional volunteers, which Pilgrimage organizers are still happy to bring aboard.

"Volunteers are a consistent need year after year," Stewart said.

"Pilgrimage Jr." will take place from 2-4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2, and the full Pilgrimage will be 5-9 p.m. Dec. 2-3.

Shuttles will also take participants to several churches throughout the borough, each of which will also host its own series of holiday events.

Those attending can park at Delmont Presbyterian Church, St. John's Church, or Faith United Methodist, and should plan to arrive at least 30 minutes before the event time on their tickets.

For tickets to the Pilgrimage, "Pilgrimage Jr.," or to volunteer, visit

Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick by email at or via Twitter .