LAKE ZURICH, Ill. (CBS) — Holiday plays are canceled due to COVID-19 this year, but caroling isn’t canceled everywhere.

As CBS 2’s Lauren Victory reported, show directors at one spot in the northern suburbs want both the coronavirus and the audience to take a hike – in different senses of the expression.

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From lords down to the littlest of lambs played by kids, the Christmas show at the Quentin Road Baptist Church in Lake Zurich dazzles 8,000 people every December.

Angels are usually in the air – but this year, it was the pageant plans that were.

But then, pastors found a path, and literally prepared the way.

“The first time I came back here, I was like, what?” said Pastor Jon Tanney, an actor in the pageant. “All of sudden, it’s cleared and there’s this amazing trail through the woods.”

Trees and thick brush had covered the edge of the church property. Now, mulch covers a 1 1/2-mile walkway and bridges cover creeks.

Soon, King Herod and his servants will be out there.

“The official name is the Christmas Luminary Hike,” said Josh Julian, director of marketing for the church.

That’s right – the show will go on outside, rain or shine, and hopefully above freezing.

“I would sweat, literally sweat, through my costume,” Tanney said. “But this year, I’m going to be in winter gear – a hat, a gaiter.”

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He will also have a mask, of course.

COVID-19 forced pageant director Pastor David Rende to flip his script. Actors will stay in place while the audience moves.

“Each scene is 90 seconds to a little over two minutes long,” Rende said.

There are 10 stops in all for each small group passing by. The lyrics and lines will be repeated about 80 times a night, but the actors don’t mind.

“This is really special, because I can connect with a group of eight or 10, and really look them in the eye and communicate the hope of Christmas,” Tanney said.

It is hope that the exhausting transformation of woods into wonder makes up for what’s missing theatrically.

“We got pedestals and people are all spread out, so you get this kind of feel of a sky filled angels,” Rende said.

And while socially distanced, the church will be keeping close to the reason behind the season.

Quentin Road’s hike includes thousands of luminaries. Performances kick off on Friday, Dec. 11, and are almost sold out.

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The pastors are not sure if money raised will cover their expenses, but they told CBS 2 the show is worth it to share the story of Christmas.

Lauren Victory