There's a poster likening Jesus to Santa Claus in the space where for most of the past 57 years only life-size depictions of Jesus' birth stood every Christmas.
"37 Million Americans know MYTHS when they see them ... What myths do you see?" the sign reads.
But now atheists might need some divine intervention.
Upset that the Christian displays lost their 14 spaces at Palisades Park this year, the Santa Monica Nativity Committee is asking city officials “take all needed steps” to assure the 14 Nativity scenes are allowed on Ocean Avenue in 2012 and forever after.
For the first time, the city held a lottery this year to determine assignments at the park after it received an unusually high number of requests from people outside the committee for holiday displays to be set-up the same time in roughly the same place.
The committee drew only three spots for its Nativities, instead of the usual 14, while Joe Naranja, of Christmas Spirit, and Raymond McNeely, unaffiliated, got up to 18 parcels. Many of those parcels are currently vacant grass.
"The Nativity Scenes Committee has no objection to displays anyone else puts up under the rules that disagree with ours ... That is the American way of free speech and fair play," said Nativity Scenes Committee Chairman Hunter Jameson. "The full Nativity Scenes only need one of the two blocks. There is plenty of room for the displays the atheists have put up this year, the Hanukkah menorah, and all 14 Nativity Scenes plus room left over."
The Santa Monica Nativity Committee's petition says the Nativities' messages "of love, hope, and peace [have] attracted thousands of Santa Monicans and visitors, creating a sense of community and causing Santa Monica to be known as “the City of the Christmas Story."
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