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Donkey stars in live Nativity at Westmoreland County Courthouse

Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review
Aidan Shaffer, 4, of Ruffsdale smiles as he pets Miss Lily with her owner, Louise Schachte before the live nativity on December 14, 2012 in downtown Greensburg.

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By Jewels Phraner
Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013, 8:43 p.m.

Miss Lily doesn't do anything special in her appearances at the live Nativity scene at the Westmoreland County Courthouse in Greensburg, but she often steals the show.

Lily is a 4-year-old donkey owned by Joe and Louise Schachte of Cook Township, who have participated in Greensburg resident Anna Marie Stevenson's live Nativity for the past eight years. Lily's mother, Jenny, was in the show before Lily was born.

“I always ask Anna Marie, ‘Why do you even want the donkey to be here in the show because you never see her?'” said Joe Schachte. “You can see the wise men; you can see the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus. And then you see the crowd of people always gathered around Miss Lily.”

Participating in the Nativity is a holiday tradition for the Schachte family, who bought their first donkey more than a decade ago for their son to ride.

“Donkeys seem to be born liking attention and liking people,” Schachte said. “They adore being scratched and petted. They want to be close to you.”

The family has been raising donkeys ever since for their four children to show at 4-H shows.

Miss Lily was once a state champion.

Colts that are born on the Schachte property are sold for “hay money,” Schachte said, “so we can keep the original crew (of donkeys) together.”

Stevenson, who has been organizing the Nativity for 12 years, said she was thrilled to add Miss Lily.

She met the Schachtes while walking along a road near their home.

“They had donkeys when Jesus was born, so I thought it would great to add a donkey to the live Nativity,” she said.

The Schachtes are equally thrilled to participate.

“It really makes the holiday for us,” Schachte said.

Stevenson's live Nativity appeared at the courthouse eight times this year and once at St. Bartholomew's Roman Catholic Church in Crabtree. Miss Lily came to about half of the shows, Stevenson said.

“Kids love Lily. They love Lily, and they love the baby Jesus,” she said.

When Miss Lily is not making live appearances, she spends her time eating grass, Schachte said.

Jewels Phraner is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-1218 or

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