Beware the falling camel

It’s a scene that’s replayed hundreds of times throughout the country during the Christmas season.
Well, almost.
The First Baptist Church of West Palm Beach was in the process of practicing for its annual Christmas production. It was a large show, complete with a full cast of the Nativity characters. Included in the list of characters was a camel.
You can almost imagine what church organizers were thinking.
“Sure, other churches have some sheep or a stray goat. We’re going all out this year. We’ve got a camel.”
Unfortunately, no one really discussed the plans with the camel, that so happened to be named Lula Bell. The plan called for Lula Bell to walk onto the stage, stop and then kneel.
It seems to me someone would have questioned the plan at this point. No matter how agreeable your camel is, it seems to me it’s a lot to ask for it to stop at a designated point and kneel.
And, apparently, it was too much to ask. Instead of walking on to the stage, Lula Bell put up a fuss and stumbled sideways. The rider of the camel was tossed off its back and Lula Bell fell into the front pews.
Thankfully, no one was injured. Lula Bell and the Christmas pageant practice attendees escaped unharmed, though I know if I was the victim of a falling camel, I would at least sit on the back row during any future productions.
Organizers said the camel’s actions were out of character. It turns out Lula Bell was a professional. She was on loan to the church from Animals in Motion, a group that trains and handles animals used in movies, shows and parties.
There was no indication the camel would act up, church organizers said.
Really? I don’t think it takes a genius to figure out that camels aren’t exactly made for the stage. They are large, smelly and, if you’ve ever seen one at the zoo, you know they have a tendency to spit. I’ve never seen a pack of trained camels in the circus.
I applaud the First Baptist Church’s efforts to provide a realistic reenactment of the birth of Jesus. You have to wonder, however, if the reenactment wouldn’t have been just as meaningful with a nice goat.
After all, it’s much easier to get out of the way of a hurdling goat than a falling camel.

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