At 1 p.m. this Saturday, Nov. 29, Leesburg’s Clover Park will host a ceremony for the installation of a newly revamped version of an old town treasure. Thanks to the efforts of Leesburg community members such as Clunette United Methodist Church Pastor Mike Beezley, Firefighter Craig Charlton and his mother, Sue, the new and improved life-sized nativity set that used to sit in front of what is now Farmer’s State Bank will be unveiled for the first time in years.
Craig explained that about six year ago he went to the bank, which at the time was called People’s State Bank, after he received a call from his mother, Sue, asking if he wanted the nativity set. Charlton said he dug the worn-down pieces out of the bank’s basement, stating: “It’s just part of the history we want to keep in place as part of Leesburg.” Charlton was then contacted by Dannielle Robertson, a Leesburg resident who had been working in California as a set designer before moving to Indiana. Robertson has since taken the aging pieces and turn them into a beautifully remastered set that includes many of the classic nativity scene animals like a camel, cow and donkey.
Getting into set design seemed to be in Robertson’s DNA. She is the daughter of famous musician Noel Boggs and she is proud to call guitar giant Leo Fender her godfather. Despite having worked on the sets of all three Jurassic Park movies, among others, she remains humble about her talent, and said: “Don’t be impressed, it was just a job.”
Robertson’s workshop for the project has been none other than the basement of the Plain Township Building, where she spent many hours ensuring that the scene will be as authentic as it can be. Beezley explained that: “While the originals were spray painted with a color pallet of only 4 main colors, Danielle mixed the new paint colors herself from a pallet aligned with the colors found in the Middle East during the time of the birth of Christ.” He also said that Robertson took a piece of fiberglass from one of the figures and mailed it to an expert in California to take a look at. According to Beezley, the expert found that “the type of fiberglass used in the nativity’s construction was some of the first fiberglass of its kind spun in the United States.”
On the nativity project, Robertson added: “I feel blessed to have worked on this project because it allowed me to work with life size creatures that bring so much joy to so many people.” Upon seeing Robinson’s work with the figures for the first time Sue Charlton said all she could do was gasp at the beauty.