Many events can bring a town together, but for Leesburg, Indiana it was the restoration of a 49-year-old nativity scene that had people coming out of their homes. Several Leesburg residents gathered at Clover Park in downtown Leesburg to share memories and celebrate the much-needed restoration of the life-sized set Saturday afternoon.
The set, which the late Leesburg native, Albert Heierman bought in 1965, was proudly displayed outside Peoples State Bank in Leesburg for more than 30 years. Now, the Plain Township Fire Department displays the scene each year at Clover Park. However, after many years of wear and tear, the set was beginning to fall apart.
As beautiful as the set is now after its restoration, this nativity scene is more than just a pretty decoration to the people of Leesburg. It is a yearly symbol of childhood memories and the “true” meaning of Christmas.
“I’m hoping everyone has the same memories that I do,” said Leesburg resident Cindy Walker. “It’s always been there and it always will be.”
“With our country the way it is and everybody thinks you can’t have this stuff, this just shows that you can,” said a very emotional Helen Smoker.
Another Leesburg resident, Christina Archer said “I guess it’s just an image that you associate with Christmas…and it’s a blessing to have it.”
Danielle Robertson has spent the last year researching and restoring the set to its original and improved state. Robertson, who now lives in Leesburg, worked in Hollywood for many years as a film and theatrical set designer, so “she was a perfect fit,” Leesburg native, Sue Charlton said.
There are a few more pieces of the set that are still being refurbished that will be revealed next year on its 50th anniversary.