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Santa Monica Nativity scene to be displayed on private property

A Christmas Nativity scene is displayed at Palisades Park in Santa Monica in this undated file photo.

December 3, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
The Santa Monica tradition of Nativity scenes during the Christmas season will continue, but on private property.

Since 1953, the city has allowed a Christmas Nativity scene to be erected in Palisades Park. That ended last year when the city got in the middle of the ongoing dispute between churches and atheists over whether the Nativity scenes belong on public land.

When atheists overwhelmed the city's auction process for display sites, winning 18 of 21 slots and triggering a bitter dispute, the city banned private, unattended displays at the park.

On Thursday, a Los Angeles federal judge dismissed a Christian group's lawsuit to force Santa Monica to reopen spaces for the displays. The decision was expected to be appealed.

The Santa Monica Nativity Scenes Committee said it will move the display to the 2700 block of Ocean Park Boulevard, between Clover Park and 28th Street.

The display will debut Sunday and remain there until after Christmas.