As the days wind down to Christmas 2006, local festivities are in full swing to help spread the joy of the season.

CAROLS AND CONCERT — Songs and carols representing the “joy of Christmas” will be performed at 10 a.m. Thursday, December 14th, at the Congregational Church of the Messiah, 7300 Manchester Ave., Westchester. Admission is free.

The interactive program will be led by soprano Melinda Goodall (former director of music at the church for over 25 years and current principal of Loyola Village School) along with pianist Louise Thomas, director of collaborative arts at Chapman University in Orange.

On Sunday, December 17th, a free Christmas concert with performances by the Messiah Choir, the Hand Bell Choir and the Community Guitar Ensemble, will be held at 6 p.m. A reception will follow in the Fireside Room.

Information, (310) 670-2242.

OFF THEIR JINGLE BELL ROCKERS — The Off Their Jingle Bell Rockers, local Venice singers of quirky and offbeat Christmas carols, will perform from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, December 17th, at the Santa Monica Farmers Market, at Main Street and Ocean Park Boulevard in Santa Monica. Admission is free.

Rockers include Suzy Williams, David Barlia, Catherine De La Casas, Rory Johnston, Marianne Lewis, Kathy Leonardo and Jon Preston.

Information, (310) 428-1109.

CHRISTMAS COOKIE CLASS — Recipes of favorite holiday treats will be shared at the third annual Holiday Cookie Baking Class, scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday, December 16th, at the Holy Nativity Episcopal Church, 6700 83rd St., Westchester. Participation is $10.

Information, (310) 670-4777.

ORSON BEAN AS SCROOGE — Actor Orson Bean brings his adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol to the First Lutheran Church of Venice as a free holiday offering for the community at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 5:30 p.m. Sunday, December 15th to 17th. No collections will be taken those nights, says Bean.

First Lutheran Church is at 815 Venice Blvd., Venice. Bean’s holiday stage production was put together in association with Pacific Resident Theatre.

Television and film actor Bean made numerous appearances on game shows in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. More recent credits include Alien Autopsy, Being John Malkovich and the television series Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. Bean was among the Hollywood actors blacklisted in the 1950s in the days of McCarthyism and the congressional House Un-American Activities Committee.

Information, (310) 821-2740.

NATIVITY SCENES — An annual display of nativity scenes, funded and constructed by the Santa Monica Nativity Scenes Committee, is currently on view at Palisades Park (at Ocean and Arizona Avenues) in Santa Monica.

The display includes 14 scenes with life-size figures depicting the story of Christ’s birth. The nativity scenes remain on view in the park until the end of the year.

Information, (310) 577-2586

SHOPPING CART TREE — Artist Anthony Schmitt was commissioned this year to form a 33-foot-tall Christmas tree built from 83 shopping carts stacked on top of one another. The sculpture stands sheltered in the outdoor courtyard of the Frank Gehry-designed Edgemar Center, 2435 Main St., Santa Monica, and is lit each night at 5 p.m. until Friday, January 5th.

Edgemar owner Abby Sher commissioned Schmitt to create the tree, which has been decorated this year with a combination of icicle-white and cobalt-blue lights with large silver and clear balls reflecting against the bright steel shopping carts.

A smaller display of lighted shopping carts on the street just in front of Edgemar serves as a guide for those interested in viewing the larger sculpture.

Information, (310) 399-3666.

ALL ABOUT SANTA — All About Santa, a romantic holiday musical comedy for children and families, where audience members boo the villain, cheer the hero and root for the heroine, is being performed at noon and 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through December 21st, at the Santa Monica Playhouse, 1211 Fourth St., Santa Monica.

The show, written and directed by Evelyn Rudie and Chris DeCarlo, follows a newly appointed Santa as he tries to prove his worth to retired Father Claus, save the spirit of the holidays from the diabolical machinations of his evil twin, and find the nerve to win the heart of the future Mrs. Claus.

In addition to regular showtimes, two special winter-break performances will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, December 19th and 21st. Tickets are $12.50 for adults and $10.50 for children 12 and under.

Information, (310) 394-9779 ext. 2.

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