Church: The annual scenes have a home at a local church. SMDP file photo

Santa Monica’s famed Nativity Scenes are returning to their most recent home at Calvary Baptist Church for their annual display between Dec. 11 and Jan. 3.

The event features 14 dioramas in the display that depicts scenes from the New Testament, including The Annunciation, Joseph’s dream, and Herod’s court as well as the manger. The display this year will begin along Broadway, and it will end along 20th Street.

Locals began the tradition in the 1950s and the scenes became a significant draw for residents and visitors alike however, in 2011, a group of atheists began applying for the spots allotted by the City for December displays, effectively crowding out the nativity scenes.

In response to the controversy, the City Council banned unattended displays in public parks. City staff argued the ban protected Palisades Park from wear-and-tear, preserved ocean views and saved hundreds of hours of staff time that went into administering the program.

A lawsuit intending to keep the displays went all the way to the 9th U.S. with the court ruling in the City’s favor which forced the displays to find a new home.

“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,” said Zachary M. Scribner, Chairman of the nativity committee in an email announcing this year’s show. “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.”

He said the event is funded entirely through donations and community support is needed to keep it alive.

“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.”

To see this year’s display, drivers can head East on Broadway from 19th Street. The display will be on your right hand side, and if you turn right on to 20th Street you can see the remaining scenes. To park and walk past – metered parking is available on the street and limited parking in the church parking lot.

Donations can be made on their website at santamonicanativityscenes.org or by check via mail. Checks payable to the Santa Monica Nativity Scenes Committee can be sent to P.O. Box 0648, Santa Monica, CA 90406-0648.

editor@smdp.com