The elaborate Nativity scenes rose in a city park along the oceanfront here every December for nearly six decades. More than a dozen life-size dioramas depicted the Annunciation, Mary and Joseph being turned away at the inn and, of course, the manger.
This always angered Damon Vix, who worked off and on in Santa Monica and considers himself a devout atheist, so to speak. How could it be, he asked himself each year, that the city could condone such an overtly religious message?
So, a few years ago, he petitioned the city and received his own space, using it to put up a sign offering “Reason’s Greetings.” But this year, he wanted more. Mr. Vix gathered a few supporters and applied for dozens of spaces in Palisades Park, a patch of green on a bluff overlooking the sandy beaches that this city is famous for.