Life-size scenes depicting events surrounding the birth of Jesus Christ will go on display Sunday, Dec. 15 as the Santa Monica Nativity Scenes marks its 60th anniversary year with a new location and a large new scriptural banner telling the Christmas story.
The new location is Mount Olive Lutheran Church along Maple Street, one block north of Ocean Park Boulevard, west of 14th Street and also along 14th Street.
The scenes will remain on display through Jan. 2.
Nativity Scenes Committee Chairman Hunter Jameson noted that the church parking lot off 14th Street offers ample space for motorists wanting to park and walk past the scenes.
“We are deeply grateful to the people of Mount Olive Lutheran Church and their interim pastor, the Rev. Stephen Fiechter, for providing this site to allow Santa Monica’s distinctive Christmas Story to continue to spread the message of love, joy, hope, and peace found in the Christ child’s birth to residents and visitors,” Jameson said.
Although the scenes will be displayed at Mount Olive Lutheran Church, the opening ceremony for this year’s event will be at Palisades Park, longtime home of the scenes through 2011.
The opening gathering will be at 3 pm Sunday, Dec. 15, along Ocean Avenue in the vicinity of Arizona Avenue.
The ceremony will feature Christmas carols from community choirs, recital of the Christmas Story, and unfurling of a new 24-foot-long scriptural banner, “The Christmas Story.”
The specially commissioned banner, nearly five feet tall, displays scriptures narrating events surrounding Christ’s birth with photos of many of the Nativity Scenes.
After its introduction Sunday, it will be displayed periodically at Palisades Park throughout the Christmas season as an attended display.
The original Nativity Scenes and any overnight displays were banned from the park by the city of Santa Monica in 2012, an action under legal challenge in the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
On a lighter note, Jameson said the Committee is welcoming a new member this Christmas.
“Resplendent Light Community Church, a young Westside congregation, and its pastor, the Rev. Clifford Asai, will mount the first scene in the Nativity series, ‘The Annunciation,’ formerly overseen by the Santa Monica Police Officers’ Association,” Jameson said. “The Police Officers’ Association, which retired from the committee this year, has been a faithful and devoted member of the committee, and we thank the officers for their many years of playing a vital role in continuing this community tradition.”
“No Room at the Inn,” usually mounted by the Church of the Nazarene, will be overseen this year by continuing member Metro Church Calvary Chapel, which will combine it with its usual scene, “Rest Along the Road.”
“We appreciate Metro’s stepping up in this way as Church of the Nazarene takes a sabbatical this year,” Jameson said. “As a result there will be 13 scenes this year instead of 14.”
Individuals, churches and businesses help sponsor the Scenes through the nonprofit Santa Monica Nativity Scenes Committee.
Donations defray the $18,000 annual cost, which includes assembly, removal and storage of the booths; mailing; advertising; and insurance.
Donations may be sent to the Nativity Scenes Committee at P.O. Box 0648, Santa Monica 90406, or made through the Committee’s website, www.SantaMonicaNativityScenes.org.