Nativity Scene in downtown Waynesville gets a facelift

The Nativity Scene overlooking downtown Waynesville has a long history, dating back to 1952 when the Lions Club first constructed the scene on Judge Bell's property after being granted permission.

The Bollinger/Espinoza family have played host to the scene since the 1960s. The scene is displayed on private property and stored in their family warehouse.

In 1966, the Lions Club sponsored the building of the current display.

More than 60 years after its erection, natural decay had settled in on the Nativity pieces. The scene was fading, peeling, and falling a part when Patti Espinoza started looking for someone to help restore the hometown holiday exhibit several years ago.

Espinoza and Waynesville Mayor Luge Hardman searched vigorously for someone to help with the project.

After years of searching, Hardman and Espinoza found three locals who were perfect for the task.
Hardman asked Janet Rozmiarek, an artist and the wife of an Army chaplain, and Espinoza asked the Rosipal family to complete the task.

"Being military, we don't really call anywhere "home", for us, it is wherever the cat is. I have been drawing and creating art for as long as I can remember," Rozmiarek said. "To me, life is a world filled with color, creativity and expression that is to be experienced, not just observed. I choose to live "outside" the box. I am blessed to have been able to participate in this project.

"The tradition of the Waynesville Nativity touched my heart and when I was asked to help, I just couldn't say no. It's been my pleasure to do this for the community."

Before long, JoAnn Rosipal and her son, John, made plans with Janet for sanding and painting. John Rospipal brought the Shrine Club on board and the work began. After some planning, research and scheduling, they began working on putting a new face on the Nativity Scene. Bales Construction sponsored the materials for the project.

Hardman said that she is very proud that the Nativity Scene has gotten its facelift.

"A community tradition has been reborn to offer more years of enjoyment to the citizens of our community," Hardman said. "This scene can be seen from Interstate 44, across Laughlin Valley. For many in the community, it has become a symbol of our hometown.

"A volunteer spirit keeps it alive and well on Bell Bluff, overlooking downtown Waynesville."

The Waynesville Downtown Business Association will sponsor "Christmas on the Square" on Dec. 5 and part of the opening ceremony will be flipping the switch on the lights of Bell Bluff and the Nativity Scene.

"This year, please notice the bright, cheerful appearance of Joseph, Mary and the Three Kings and realize that the tradition lives on because of some caring citizens of Waynesville and our community. Good citizens all!" Hardman said.