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Camel trips, falls into pews during Christmas show rehearsal

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Church was holding rehearsal for Christmas production
  • Camel walking down aisle trips, falls on its side
  • No one is injured; the camel is fine, but is out of the performances

(CNN) -- Lula Belle the camel was dropped from the cast after she fell into occupied pews during a dress rehearsal for Friday night's premiere of a West Palm Beach, Florida, Christmas concert.

The incident, caught on camera and broadcast on YouTube, occurred Thursday night at First Baptist Church of West Palm Beach.

No one was injured in the incident, including the church member atop the camel who was portraying one of the Three Kings, and the camel itself, said worship leader and show producer Chuck Lewis. "He is absolutely A-OK."

A trainer and veterinarians were on site.

"This is an unusual fluke," Lewis said, adding that the church has used live animals in previous shows. "We're thankful no one was hurt."

Animals used in the church's annual Christmas productions are professionally trained and safety is paramount, the pastor said. Two sheep and two lambs will remain in the weekend production.

The incident occurred as Palm Beach Atlantic University students watched the rehearsal. While "We Three Kings" was performed, the procession of animals and actors approached the stage. Lula Belle lowered herself so that Alex James could dismount, Lewis said.

She apparently lost her balance and fell on her side in the pews. Fortunately, the pastor said, most of the spectators saw the commotion and got out of the way.

"For me it wasn't scary," eyewitness Michelle Johnson told CNN affiliate WPTV. The camel was stubborn, but appeared to be contained by handlers, she said. "I heard a couple people scream."

The camel is owned and trained by a Citra, Florida, company that provides trained animals to movies and other productions.

Lewis said the production, "Project Christmas 2010 -- A Baby Changes Everything," celebrates the birth of Christ and raises awareness about the need for children to be adopted. Members of First Baptist and the community also are urged to sponsor Haitian and Dominican Republic children through Compassion International.

The wise man, now without a ride, will walk in the procession during the production, which runs through Sunday evening.

CNN's Phil Gast contributed to this report.