Beverly White and Eric Trujillo
Santa Monica will have nativity scenes after all, but they won't be at Palisades Park where the city has banned the long-term tradition. Beverly White reports from Santa Monica for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Dec. 3, 2012.
After a judge ruled against forcing Santa Monica to allow the religious displays in a city park, a business has donated its commercial property for the holiday exhibits.
Construction has begun on more than a dozen Nativity scenes to be erected at Watt Companies, near the corner of 28th Street and Ocean Park. So far, only the installations' frames have been created.
"It was very difficult to find a spot after the City Council ejected us from the park earlier this year," said Hunter Jameson, Christian activist.
A judge in November denied a group’s bid to force the city to reopen spaces in Palisades Park for private displays, including Christmas Nativity scenes.
The decision came after months of controversy stemming from last year’s displays at the municipal park. When there were more requests for displays than there were spaces to allot, the city conducted a lottery to determine which groups could have displays.
Atheists won the majority of the spaces available last year and erected displays that called Christianity a myth. The Nativity scene, which used to span across multiple display areas, was limited to two spaces.
Now, all private installations are prohibited.
Attorneys for the Santa Monica Nativity Scenes committee said at the time that the decision to ban all displays "amounts to an erosion of First Amendment liberty for religious speech."
Atheist activist Damon Vix declined to comment about the Christians' new location.
A merchant at Signature Wine and Spirits, located near the displays' new home, said tolerance is key. "It's the same God," said Jarnail Singh. "God is one, any religion, I believe."
Christian Lloyd said he'll likely bring his daughter to see the new exhibit. "Give her exposure to the Biblical story," he said.
Now on private property, the Nativity Scenes will be on display from Dec. 8 through Jan. 5, according to supporters close to effort to bring the Nativity scenes back to the coastal city.
There will be an informal opening ceremony at 3 p.m. on Dec. 8 at Clover Park.