The spirit of Christmas was displayed early this year at the display of Nativities, “No Room at the Inn,” sponsored by the Sanctuary House.

Five-hundred-one Nativities are on display in downtown Palestine as a way to ring in the holiday early and help raise funds to support the Sanctuary house.

“They are beautiful,” said Bela Hafner of Palestine. “There are so many of them from different countries and different presentations.

“To me, this is what Christmas is all about,” she added.

The display almost did not happen this year.

“I was asked by so many people to do it again,” said coordinator Lilly Duncan. “Last year it was so much work that I almost did not do it again.”

But with the support of the community, the display has been visited by more than 100 people.

“People are already giving me ideas for next year’s display,” she said. “They are just so excited.”

It truly was the community support that made the display possible.

“Last year we had help getting started with 200 Nativities loaned to us from another city,” Duncan said. “This year we were on our own and we have 501 Nativities.”

The Nativities range from the traditional to the original, and reflect the part of the world they came from.

One Nativity, which was loaned for the display, was made in Bethlehem, another was cross-stitched with care and devotion.

There even was a Nativity which had dogs instead of people filling the roles.

“This is a good time of year to have this because it helps with the preparation for the season,” Hafner said.

Diane Hurbough was extremely impressed with the display.

“This is just wonderful,” she said. “What a wonderful idea, this will put Palestine on the map.”

The display also gave pause to Hurbough.

“This ought to make people stop and think,” she said.

In addition to the display there is a children’s area with Nativity ornaments to hang on a Christmas tree and Nativities to play with.

There is even a mural of a Nativity for them to color.

The display has opened the eyes of many people to the wonderment of the Nativities.

“People who have not displayed their Nativities in years have told me they are going to get it out this year,” Duncan said. “Others are planning on donating theirs for next year’s display.”

Duncan was amazed and overwhelmed with the variety of the Nativities.

“Out of all the Nativities there were few duplicates,” Duncan said. “It just amazes me how different each one can be.”

The display will be open from 1 to 4 p.m. today at 109 W. Main St.

Admission is free, but donations will be accepted for the Sanctuary House.