“Baby Jesus was not a cat,” the young woman said indignantly. She was shocked to see the Nativity story depicted by small barnyard figurines: Mary and Joseph as horses, an angel represented by a small dog and Baby Jesus depicted as a yellow striped cat lying in a manger. The display is one of hundreds of Nativity scenes exhibited annually by No Room at the Inn, a nonprofit group that has donated more than $400,000 to local charities that serve the homeless community of Ventura County.
Of the 600+ Nativity displays, many are whimsical—with mice, teddy bears, black bears or other animals portraying the characters in the scene—while the majority are more traditional, with sparkling crystal or gorgeous porcelain time- honored characters shown in beautiful detail. Children delight in finding the unusual and playful Nativity sets: a cast comprised of mice in a woodland setting or alligators in Cajun dress with fiddles and saxophones. Adults often prefer the old-style, customary figurines in traditional settings.
From tiny to 2-feet tall, the unique displays are crafted from a variety of materials, such as fine porcelain, clay, wood, metal, crystal, cloth and even seed pods and driftwood. From simple, hand-crafted and inexpensive to elegant and elaborate, these Nativity displays come from countries throughout the world, including Mexico, Germany, Spain, Italy, the Czech Republic, Africa and South America. Last year’s exhibit featured Nativity displays from 53 countries and cultures throughout the world.
This year’s 24th Annual Nativity Display Grand Opening Gala takes place on Friday, Dec. 2 from 6-9 p.m. and includes entertainment, delicious appetizers, gift baskets and a silent auction for holiday shopping. Continuing through Sunday, Dec. 4, this year’s display is hosted by St. Jude the Apostle Church, located at 32032 W. Lindero Canyon Road in Westlake Village.
Requested donations for the Gala are $30 per person by Dec. 1, and $35 at the door. Weekend exhibit hours are Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 3 and 4, from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. with requested donations of $5 for adults and $1 for children. The Silent Auction continues throughout the weekend. The Children’s Corner includes crafts and the opportunity for children to dress in special costumes and play out a part in the Nativity scene, as well as a scavenger hunt to find very special Nativity displays tucked away amongst the hundreds of displays.
To make advance reservations, visit NRATI.com.