February 7, 2023 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Santa Monica’s Nativity Scenes Returns

December 11-15 at 1502 20th Street

By Dolores Quintana 

The Calvary Baptist Church, located at 1502 20th Street,  will again be the home of Santa Monica’s annual Nativity Scenes display starting on Dec. 11 and continuing through January 3, 2022 .

The Nativity Scenes have been a time-honored tradition of the Christmas season since 1953. 

The 14 scene display originally had a home in Palisades Park, but after a legal battle spurred by an ordinance that was passed in 2003 limiting unattended displays in the city. The city opened spots to all residents, but the Nativity Scenes were pushed out by atheists who were opposed to the display who applied for the permits. Because the issue drew so much acrimony, the city decided to ban all unattended displays in public parks. City employees agreed with the ban and said that they thought the ban actually helped the park and the city budget by lowering the costs associated with city employees having to attend to the displays and keeping the park and its scenic views intact. 

The lawsuit that was filed in favor of the Nativity Scenes went all the way to the 9th Circuit in the United States Court of Appeals where it was decided that the ordinance would stand and that the City had not violated the first amendment rights of the group by banning all displays in 2015. 

Zachary M. Scribner, who is the Chairman of the nativity committee, was quoted by the Santa Monica Daily Press from this year’s email announcement of the display, “I am pleased to report the Santa Monica Nativity Scenes will hold its 69th annual display from December 11th to the week of January 3rd, 2022, presenting life-size scenes depicting biblical and traditional events surrounding the birth of Jesus Christ. We are deeply thankful to the people of Calvary Baptist Church, their Church Council, and their pastor for providing a home for the Nativity Scenes for another year.”

Schribner also noted that the Nativity Display depends on donations from the public to continue and added that “The past year has created challenges for everyone in our community, and our hope and prayer is that we could be a beacon of hope, to those that are feeling hopeless,” he said. “The past year’s struggles have impacted the Nativity Scenes in a significant way. Financially, we need your help to continue this timeless tradition. Contributions are strictly used to meet display expenses, which include: setup and takedown, transportation, liability insurance, and storage during the offseason. We sincerely thank all who have given in the past, and we ask for your continued (or first-time) donation.” as quoted by the Santa Monica Daily Press.

You can donate at the Santa Monica Nativity Scenes website’s donation page which says, “For the last 30 years we have been using the same wooden booths in preserving the tradition of the Santa Monica Nativity Scenes. These wooden booths have been destroyed over the years, and are barely holding up. We have set them up, hoping that this will be their last year, in faith that we will raise enough funds to replace all 14 booths. We NEED your help to make this happen.”

According to the Santa Monica Daily Press, you can also send a check via mail to P.O. Box 0648, Santa Monica, CA 90406-0648 that is made payable to the Santa Monica Nativity Scenes Committee.

To view the display, as reported by the Santa Monica Daily Press, you can drive along Broadway, heading east starting at 19th Street. To view the rest of the scenes, you must turn right on 20th Street. Parking is available at meters along the street or you might be able to secure parking in the Church parking lot, however that parking is limited.

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