Saturday, February 27th, 2021

Shopper Client Stories


A Holiday Gift to Hampton Roads

by Rob Lauer

The Christmas spirit has come early to CBN as its dedicated team of technicians and artists work to once more transform the campus into CBN Christmas Village. In the process, no one is more apt to break out smiling or humming a carol than CBN Vice President Michael Stonecypher- especially when recounting his memories of the event last year.

"A number of people came up to me and said they felt like they were in a Hallmark Channel Christmas movie," he recalls with a grin. "The good folks at Hallmark know what they're doing when it comes to celebrating Christmas, so I take those remarks as proof that we're doing something right," he concludes with a warm laugh.

Inspired by the German Christmas markets that each year attract millions of tourists from around the world, CBN Christmas Village was born in the mind of Gordon Robertson- CEO of CBN and the son of its founder, Pat Robertson. In December of 2017, while producing the documentary film Christmas: The Story Behind the Traditions, filming took Gordon to Dresden, where he fell in love with the historic city's famous Christmas market.

"Gordon called me one night following the filming in Dresden," Michael remembers, "and he was so excited by the atmosphere and the joyful feeling that he found there. He said, "This has been an absolutely fabulous trip for me, and I would love for CBN to do something to bring this experience to the people of Hampton Roads!'"

Gordon proposed that CBN unveil a Christmas Village, fashioned after the German Christmas markets, less than 12 months later, in December of 2018.

"The logistics for an undertaking that big could be overwhelming," Michael admits, "but here at CBN, we're blessed with an organization made up of dedicated, talented people who respond quickly and creatively. We premiered CBN Christmas Village last year, and it was a huge success."

For two weekends in December of 2018, CBN's campus became a Christmas wonderland. A massive Christmas tree topped with a Moravian star dominated the scene- a beacon inviting guests to stroll through a festive market place filled with booths offering food, crafts, and gifts. Guests could enjoy live musical entertainment and classic Christmas films in the CBN Chapel and Regent Theatre. There were displays of antique cars; amusement rides for young children, horse-and-carriage rides, marching life-size toy soldiers, wandering elves, and strolling carolers. A red-carpeted walkway led to the front door of Santa's house. With its bright green roof and red trim, the cozy abode looked as if it had been lifted out of a children's storybook. Inside, the jolly old elf himself sat on his throne, ready to take youngsters onto his lap and hear what they wanted for Christmas. In a beautifully designed Nativity scene, the miraculous story of Jesus's birth was reenacted every half hour.

"Last year, people came up to me
and said they felt like they were in
a Hallmark Channel Christmas movie."

- Michael Stonecypher

"This year, we will have all of those things and more," Michael explains. "In the Christmas market, we will have many of the same vendors as last year, but we'll also welcome a lot of new ones. The Chrysler Museum's Glass Studio will be here demonstrating glass blowing. Our food court, housed under a giant tent, will be larger this year as well. There, guests can enjoy favorite snacks like pizza and funnel cakes; but to better capture the feel of a German Christmas market, some venders will offer authentic German food, much of it prepared over an onsite grill. Along with the strolling toy soldiers and elves, there will also be characters dressed in traditional German costumes."

"Because December 7 is the anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, it will be Military Appreciation Day, and we'll have military armored vehicles on display," Michael notes. "Of course, there will be continuous live entertainment in both the Regent chapel and the Regent Theatre. There will be Christmas music performed by local church choirs, carolers, and the Regent University Singers. We'll also show beloved classic Christmas movies like It's a Wonderful Life and How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

The impressive Nativity Scene, which was a central component of last year's Christmas Village, will be expanded.

"Last year, CBN's scenic department built a beautiful stable for the scene," Michael explains. "This year, we are adding more live animals to the stable. We're expanding the scene also to include an inn. Villagers from the town of Bethlehem will not only participate in the reenactment of Christ's birth, but they will go through the market, inviting people to come to the stable where they can witness the story of the first Christmas every half hour."

The theme of redemptive love that is central to the Christmas story is never far from the hearts of the talented men and women behind CBN Christmas Village.

"We think of CBN Christmas Village as our Christmas gift to Hampton Roads for being so supportive of our work through the years," Michael declares. "The Christmas season is a time for families to come together and show their love for one another. But a large family of four, five, and six children might not be able to afford to take everyone out for a special Christmas event. With CBN Christmas Village, we're offering them a place where they can come and create beautiful Christmas memories that can last a lifetime. This is a free high-quality event, open to the public, where all are welcomed to come and partake of the Spirit of the Season."

Thursdays:   December 5 and 12
6:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Fridays:   December 6 and 13
6:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Saturdays:   December 7 and 14
12:00 pm – 9:00  pm

CBN Christmas Village

977 Centerville Turnpike
Virginia Beach, VA 23463