THE NATIVITY, depicting Mary and Joseph with baby Jesus, is the central scene presented by St. Anne’s Church in the annual Santa Monica Nativity Scenes display. This year’s display will open at 4 p.m. December 13th at Ocean and Arizona avenues in Palisades Park.

The Santa Monica Nativity Scenes will open its annual display of Christmas story events at 4 p.m. Sunday, December 13th, at Palisades Park in Santa Monica.

The interdenominational display, which started in 1953, stretches along Ocean Avenue from Arizona Avenue to Santa Monica Boulevard and now includes 14 scenes with lifesize figures depicting events surrounding Christ’s birth.

The nativity displays will have a new look this year with a specially commissioned scroll-type banner for each of the 14 booths giving the scriptural description of the scene. The new banners aim 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 when it starts operating this month at

The public is invited to join a caroling procession beginning at 3 p.m. Sunday, December 13th on the Third Street Promenade at Broadway. The procession, open to all ages, will march down the Promenade and then west for the opening ceremony of the scenes at Arizona and Ocean avenues at 4 p.m.

The opening ceremony 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 Santa Monica congregations including Calvary Baptist Church, First United Methodist Church, Metro Church Calvary Chapel, Pilgrim Lutheran Church and St. Anne’s Church, as well as the Saint Monica High School Rainbow Riders choir and Lighthouse Church Children’s Choir.

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 the city due to the covering of parking meters along Ocean Avenue, a program spokesman said.

Donations may be sent to the Nativity Scenes Committee at P.O. Box 0648, Santa Monica 90406.

The lighted scenes will be on display through New Year’s Day.