I think St. Francis originated the first live nativity re-enactment.
I think a sort of creche scene - at least in fresco, was already in use at the time of St. Francis of Assisi. Either he popularized the three dimensional creche, or he initiated the live nativity tableau. Today he is credited with both.
Anyway - I stopped by the live nativity at Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church in South Minneapolis last evening. The parish presented a living mom and dad and baby, shepherds, and living animals; a camel, a calf, a donkey, and two sheep. The animals were so meek and mild. The churchyard was all lit up, with colored lights on the pines, fires, and even a search light. I think they served hot beverages and treats - but I didn't partake. Despite the total lack of snow and the temperature in the 40's - it was awesome. I normally wouldn't go out to see such things, but I had told an older friend about it and he asked me to drive over to see it. I did. He was deeply moved - as was I.
Our Lady of Peace is a cool parish: The pastor is a young, very good priest, and the parish is comprised of young families and singles and their 'grand parents and parents and aunts and uncles' too.