Nativity Scene in Columbia Heights Plaza

Wild! Thanks to a reader for sending. A commenter writes:

“You asked not too long ago if a Columbia Heights Xmas tree would be a good idea. I personally thought it was a great idea and could lure shoppers to the neighborhood. Well the idea had its critics. Chief amoung the problems seemed to be that an Xmas tree was a religious symbol and therefore couldnt be placed in the plaza. So why then I ask. Was I walking by the plaza only to see a FULL ON NATIVITY SCENE? I for one think the tree would be a lot prettier and a much better draw.”

I think a camel in Columbia Heights is awesome!

edward_DC also uploaded this photo to the PoPville flickr pool:


26 Comment

  • The live Nativity was produced in the Civic Plaza by a local church, *not* by any government entity. As long as all local organizations have equal access to the plaza there’s no conflict. And for dozens of kids who had never seen a live sheep or goat or donkey (or camel) it was infinitely more wonderful than a tree. More photos here.

    • what kid who lives 6 blocks from the zoo had never seen a live, sheep, goat or donkey? You act like this million dollar neighborhood is a slum. that’s f*cking weird.

  • I think it’s cool, and I’m an atheist. There was just one guy arguing against a holiday tree in the plaza anyway, I think on the poll that was done something like 80% were in favor of the idea. Anyway, happy holidays everyone!

  • I love live nativities! And serious points to this one for stepping it up with a camel. My parents used to take me to the one at our church every year growing up. There’s been one at Lincoln Park the last few years. I sadly couldn’t make it over this year, but I will definitely be there next year! Other than this one in Columbia Heights and the Lincoln Park one, does anyone know of any others in DC? I’d love to do a Live Nativity tour of DC!

  • What a great idea. Not sure why the tree would be a problem – who said it was? There is one at the White House with a picture of Mao on it and somehow we all deal. Honestly, it would be nice if more people had displays like this. Let’s hope for more religious displays year round – Ramadan lanterns and all. I’m just saying…why not?

  • How do you go about renting a camel and securing the permits to walk it down the street?

  • Emmaleigh504

    I think nativities are boring, but it’s great for those who like them.

  • maybe i’m nostalgic but i miss things christmas this time of year in my neighborhood, nativities, trees lighted and for sale, christmas parades, carolollers(sp.) people selling hot cider. so nice if those activities could happened in columbia plaza. why not celebrate all the holidays…in that space, its across roads after all. how fun if all celebrations colud come together their?? not just the christmas spirit. but the spirit of community through mutual celebration!

  • sorry for my many mispells..happy holidays

  • the town i grew up in was sued by the aclu years ago for having a nativity scene on public property. the court ruled that as long as all other groups were allowed access to the public property, then the nativity scene was allowed. but all electricity had to be paid by private groups.

    a group of devil worshipers or something like that tried to put up a display the following year and suddenly the town decided that no religious displays were allowed..

  • that is super cool. i’m not a christian, am an ACLU supporter, and think this is awesome.

  • Wow. Impressive. I asked Jim Graham about a tree there and he said it was too religious for public property. Not sure how the White House and congress and cities across the country deal with that so effectively.

  • Just glad they decided to NOT use a live Jewish child in the scene–Happy Hanukkah

  • This Nativity was more of a play for a couple of hours vs. a permanent display. Ideally, the civic plaza would not be cluttered with permanent displays of any kind. However, there will be other areas of the CH Streetscape designed for such displays.

    Hopefully once construction is complete this Summer the plaza and area will have decorative themes and be more festive in future holiday seasons. But it depends on neighbors and businesses organizing and doing the work.

    The key to doing projects/activities in the plaza is to just organize your idea, get a support letter from the ANC and permit from DPR.

  • My husband and I got signed up for three years in a row to play Joseph and Mary for a one hour shift in a live nativity up at the Mormon temple visitors center. It was a little hokey, but kind of a nice chance to take an hour out and just get to quietly think about what the madness is really about.

  • I get inundated with Christmas crap for at least 3 months, wherever I go in this city. I am not Christian, and it does tend to piss me off at some point, just like I am sure it does every other religion that’s not Christian. I am not against Christians, but I just think it is a little ridiculous how commercialized and truly meaningless this holiday has become. I think that religious demonstrations or objects should not be allowed in any public space, but should be utilized on private church or personal property.

    • I don’t think you get it, really. You say you aren’t Christian but then you say the holiday is meaningless. I do not celebrate religious Christmas. I celebrate Christmas as a season of giving. Please feel free to watch “A Christmas Story” and celebrate THAT holiday rather than the one you think Christians celebrate. When I was a kid every single on of my Jewish friends celebrated Christmas. Why? Why not?

  • yeah that live nativity scene was incredibly commercial.


  • That’s right Eric, if they didn’t want to have that stigma attached, then they would have put the hokey nativity scene next to their own respective church, not in the middle of Target and Giant in Columbia Heights. I don’t really want your religion shoved down my throat every time I go shopping, not everyone believes in Jesus, get over it.

    • Emmaleigh504

      I’m with you I also hate Christmas. That’s right, I said it. Mostly I hate it b/c it is shoved down my throat at every waking moment from before Halloween on. Christmas is over I and still see Christmas commercials on the television.

      I would even work on Christmas if I were allowed. Give me the Friday after Thanksgiving off instead, or some random day in March.

      Ba hum-bug

  • Happy Holidays to all. Thank God (and man) for Christmas. It is the season that provides the much needed spirit in the human heart that offers up compassion, hope, love. While Christmas is significant to Christians as the birthday of their savior, the holiday offers a universal spirit in charity and humility. What is there not to like about the nativity scene?

  • @ihateholidays:
    Everyone believes in Jesus. they just might conceptualize it differently.

    • thats a huge stretch. but i do agree with you that jesus is a pretty universal myth.

      the hope of a savior is pretty deep in human cultures.

  • I’m so sad I missed it! I love live nativites!

  • thats a huge stretch. but i do agree with you that jesus is a pretty universal myth.

    the hope of a savior is pretty deep in human cultures.
    maybe, so as not to offended the thin skinned next year we can make it a star wars nativity with the birth of luke skywalker.

    ben can be there. threepio, r2, the midichlorians the whole gang.
    imagine a live Bantha on 14th!
    who’s in?

  • LOL at the haters.

Comments are closed.