LOS ANGELES, CA – Candy Cane Lane might be in trouble. Residents of the Woodland Hills neighborhood known for its twinkly holiday displays of elaborate Christmas lights are worried the tradition might be dying out.
The tradition began in 1952 when residents of the neighborhood bordering the 101 Freeway and Pierce College started decorated their homes with extravagant Christmas lights. 60 years later, tens of thousands of people visit the neighborhood to look at elaborately decorated front yards filled with lit up displays.
However, things got a little rough around the edges in recent years. Residents complained that the annual event became overcrowded with visitors coming to gawk at the Christmas lights. In addition, some visitors behaved disrespectfully and vandalized local homes. And there were too many vendors, making money off the tradition, selling light-up wands and toys from their cars. Some homeowners, annoyed by the crowds and problems, threatened to “go dark.”
Since then, Los Angeles City Councilman Bob Blumenfield worked with the community to address some of those issues. The community erected garbage bins. More policy patrols were deployed in the area. Residents put up signs in front of homes that asked visitors to please refrain from littering and selling toys on the street.
But the biggest problem for Candy Cane Lane’s longevity is, in the end, new residents who might not be as dedicated to the tradition of putting up Christmas lights every year. The older generation of homeowners is aging. Old-timers in the area are unable to keep up with the physical labor of decorating. Moreover, many have moved out or passed away.
But 26-year-old Nick Saimas, a newcomer to the neighborhood, says it’s not lack of spirit that prevents him from participating. He says he rents his house, money is tight, and, “…buying decorations and keeping lights on is just really expensive.” But he did flip on the electricity on a recent Thursday evening to reveal a glittering couple of reindeer on his lawn.