If ever you have driven up Moeser Lane during the weeks leading up to Christmas, you have witnessed the magic that is the life-sized nativity scene! It happens to be one of Alissa’s kids’ favorite holiday displays and has been an annual treasure for the El Cerrito community for years.
The incredible display was hand-crafted by well-loved El Cerrito resident, Sundar Shadi. Mr. Shadi immigrated to the US in 1921 to attend UC Berkeley, subsequently graduating with a master's degree in horticulture. At the suggestion of his wife Dorothy, Mr. Shadi created the first nativity scene in 1949 and was originally displayed on Arlington Boulevard - growing larger each year. Soon the total number of figures reached the hundreds, and the grand display became an annual attraction for people near and far.
While Mr. Shadi passed away at the age of 101 in 2002, the annual display lives on (thanks to community volunteers) on the Moeser hillside. There is even a wooden cutout figure of Mr. Shadi that has been included in the display, keeping his memory alive.
After a two year hiatus due to the pandemic, this is the first year that the entire display is back in its full glory and it is not to be missed! Make sure to visit the spectacular nativity scene from December 17th-27th. And, to learn more about this local treasure, or to volunteer or donate to ensure the continuation of the Shadi holiday display, please click here.