The Santa Monica Nativity Scenes this Sunday will open its annual, interdenominational display featuring moments leading up to the birth of Jesus Christ.
The display runs along Palisades Park, with the kick-off taking place at 4 p.m. at Ocean and Arizona avenues.
The display, which started in 1953, now includes 14 scenes with life-size figures depicting events surrounding Christ’s birth. The display has become a holiday fixture in Santa Monica, capturing the attention of old and young alike.
Providing the new look this year will be a specially commissioned scroll-type banner for each of the 14 booths giving the scriptural description of the scene. The new wording aims to make the scenes more readily understandable, said spokeswoman Kari Czer.
Fresh green paint replacing the former brown will complete the new look for the booths this year.
In addition, the Nativity Scenes’ first Web site is expected to provide new visibility (www.SantaMonicaNativityScenes.org).
The public is invited to join a caroling procession on Sunday forming at 3 p.m. on the Third Street Promenade at Broadway. The procession, open to all ages, will march down the promenade and then west to the opening ceremony, which will feature seasonal songs and the recital of the Christmas story. Pastor Clarence Crites of the Santa Monica Church of the Nazarene will be master of ceremonies.
Participants will include choirs and vocalists from the Calvary Baptist Church, First United Methodist Church, Metro Church Calvary Chapel, Pilgrim Lutheran Church and St. Anne’s Church. The St. Monica High School Rainbow Riders choir and Lighthouse Church Children’s Choir also will take part.
Individuals, churches and businesses help sponsor the scenes through the nonprofit Santa Monica Nativity Scenes Committee. Voluntary donations defray the full $18,000 annual cost, which includes assembly, removal and storage of the booths, publicity and insurance, and replacement of revenue lost by City Hall due to the covering of parking meters along Ocean Avenue.
The lighted scenes will be on display through New Year’s Day. For motorists, the lane along Ocean Avenue next to the booths is expected to be reserved for passing vehicles to view the scenes during part or all of the display.