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Over 1,000 nativity scenes on display in Wadena after council removes one from park

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WADENA, Minn. - One month has made a huge difference in Wadena.

The Wadena city council voted to remove a much-loved nativity scene from a city park after one person complained.

The town is now coming together like never before, and taking back Christmas.

In a normally a silent park, all is not calm, and not all is bright this Christmas. New decorations are going in and a manger is missing.

“Initially, there was a lot of anger, I think," said George Deiss, mayor of Wadena.

For years, a nativity scene sat in a Wadena park, but recently, the city decided there was "no room" in government for it, and sent Jesus, Mary and Joseph away.

“That night after we made the decision, I didn't sleep real well," Deiss said. "The next day when I woke up, I didn't feel very good about the decision.”

Nearly the entire town mourned the loss. That is, until one person remembered that faith can overcome anything.

Wadena resident Dani Sworski challenged the town to bring back Christmas and bring out as many mangers as possible, hoping to break the world record for most nativity scenes. The response has been overwhelming.

“I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason," Sworski said. “It just kept growing and growing and growing.”

Main Street is filled. Linnea Gray’s workplace, Hometown Crafts and Fabrics, is just one of the several businesses that brought theirs out immediately.

“Put them in their windows and their yards," Gray said. 

“This one's my favorite," Gray added. "I love the silver because it's shiny and sparkly."

They're flying off the shelves, landing at people's homes.

“We got in a truck load, and have just a few left now," Gray said.

It seems everyone wants one, and they're almost everywhere you look.

“It's been an amazing experience, that's for sure,” Sworski said.

Wadena; a town, never filled with more Christmas spirit.

“We wanted to make sure that we stood together, we came together for our faith, as friends as family, and we all kind of grew from this,” Sworski said.

According to the Wadena Nativity Display Facebook page, the record for most nativity scenes in one spot is 2500. Right now, Wadena has over a thousand. Even if they don't break the record, they say that's okay, because they've never felt more like a community.

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