Creating Christmas Cheer
Jeff Crevier is one of the few people in the jan/san industry who is intimately involved with an Emmy award-winning project. Jeff, the owner of Sanastar, a Fort Lauderdale Fla.-based manufacturer, is the creative director of the Fort Lauderdale Christmas Pageant.
The annual pageant, presented by First Baptist Church of Fort Lauderdale, is broadcast in 11 languages to television audiences across the United States and 34 other countries. It has won two regional Emmy awards from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.
This year’s pageant will mark Jeff’s 11th year as creative director. Jeff, who has a master’s degree in theology, used to work as a professional actor. “I had to take dance classes to be a better actor, and ended up as a professional dancer, which is where I met my wife Christye,” said Jeff. Christye, a ballet dancer, performs in the pageant, as do the couple’s four girls, who range in age from 7 to 14.
Rehearsals for the annual Christmas pageant start in the middle of August. “I participate in rehearsals two nights per week in August, three in September, five in October, and nightly rehearsals in November,” said Jeff. The pageant dates this year are November 30 through December 17. Over 50,000 people attend the production annually. Ticket prices range from $15 to $50, and the total budget for the production is $1.3 million.
Occasionally, Jeff confessed, “I perform in the pageant with my wife. But only if it’s a special dance.” Otherwise, as creative director he has his hands full. He is connected via headset to a myriad of other people behind the scenes, including the folks responsible for props, lighting, backstage, special effects and audio. “Two people in headsets are actually on the stage itself, hidden among the up to 300 people on stage at one time,” according to Jeff.
Not only are there 300 people on stage, but also there are real animals, including horses, lambs, camels, donkeys, chickens and goats. There is a 40-piece orchestra. About 1,000 volunteers of all ages are involved in the pageant, including three babies who rotate in for the role of the infant Jesus.
His favorite thing about the pageant? “One of the things I love about the Christmas pageant is that we make changes in peoples’ lives, families, and communities,” Jeff said. “ I know families that were apart and now, because of being in the pageant, are strong, vibrant and together. There’s a great sense of team, encouragement and accountability.”
Jeff says that the pageant is so well-known and respected that, for the last three years, the Pentagon has requested 500 DVDs that are shipped to military bases around the world so that U.S. military personnel can have a taste of Christmas from home.
I watched a DVD of the pageant and was mesmerized. There were people in tuxedos and evening gowns. Little kids were break-dancing and grown-ups were waltzing in ball gowns. There were choirs of angels. Fireworks. Confetti. Ice skaters. The pageant is the most amazing display of people of every size, shape, age and color performing in perfect unison. They live the message that it is truly the most wonderful time of the year.
Gretchen Roufs, an 18-year janitorial supply industry veteran, owns a marketing and public relations company in San Antonio. To suggest someone you think should be featured in “freetime,” contact her at GretchenRoufs@aol.com.
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