Homeowners, students discuss decorated neighborhood
Many Fresno neighborhoods choose to go above and beyond in decorating for Christmas, and some of the brightest include Christmas Tree Lane, Santa Claus Lane and Cindy Lane. Famous for its walking experience and friendly homeowners, Cindy Lane, also known as Candy Cane Lane, begins Friday, Dec 1, and walking nights continue through Christmas Day.
Like other organized neighborhood light shows, Cindy Lane, located on Alluvial and Peach Ave., started when a few houses agreed to illuminate for the holidays. Homeowners Greg and Melinda Harvey were one of the first to put up lights, in 1992.
“We moved in here in 1991, and we’ve been doing this since 1992,” Greg said. “Before it was just a few houses in here, and now it’s pretty close to all of them. Years ago, my kids wanted to put lights on the house. I said, okay, so I went down and bought four cases of lights and put them on my house. It sort of progressed after that.”
The Christmas spirit has certainly spread, as over a hundred houses display varying degrees of decorations for Cindy Lane’s 25th year. First-year homeowner Heidi Briggs sees the lights show as a unifying factor, as neighbors help each other out to prepare.
“My favorite part is the comradery with the neighbors,” Briggs said. “When I moved into the house before this one, I didn’t know my neighbors for at least a year. I know the names of all my neighbors, all the way around me now because we’re all out putting out our lights and getting to know each other and offering each other help.”
Hanging out and getting to know friends is one reason some students look forward to Cindy Lane. Kayden Marquez, ’20, prefers experiencing Cindy Lane on foot but says both driving and walking put her in the Christmas spirit.
“One time I drove through, and I thought it was pretty cool, seeing all the different decorations,” Marquez said, “and one time I went with Dani[elle Foster, ’20]. I sat and drank hot chocolate, so that was fun, to see everyone. I liked walking better, just because you can see the up-close details of what everyone puts their hard work and effort into. Everybody loves Christmas, so it’s really fun to get into the mood right before Christmas.”
Unlike Santa Claus or Christmas Tree Lanes, participation in the lights show is optional for Cindy Lane residents, giving each homeowner freedom to make their lawn as flashy or peaceful as they want. Melinda Harvey says this freedom sets Cindy Lane apart from the others in town.
“Santa Claus Lane is a lot more advanced, but it’s just a totally different feel,” Melinda said. “That’s all more synchronized and high-tech, where this is everybody just does what they can do. You do not have to participate, some people do not for different reasons.”
While many houses feature inflatables, roof decorations, nativity scenes and Christmas-related jokes, some have found their way into the computer age. FCS parent John Foster created a fountain and underwater lights show. For Foster, listening to kids’ reactions made it worth the work.
“Last year, we moved into this house Dec. 13,” Foster said. “My friend Jay Wagner came and stayed with us and we decided we need to step up our game from what we had last year. We came up with a water and light show. It took me about three weekends to troubleshoot and figure out what sort of vessel to catch the water with. I’m not sure it was worth the financial investment at first, but tonight, while I was outside fine-tuning, I heard some kids come by and say, “That guy wins for sure!” and, “Look, mom, how beautiful are those presents!” So I heard about five or six comments in about 10 minutes that really made it all worth it.”
Depending on the day of the week or time, driving Cindy Lane can take two hours, including waiting in line to enter on Cindy or Athens avenues. Despite the fact lights are only on from 5:30-10 p.m., early birds start coming through the neighborhood as soon as 4:30 p.m. Despite enjoying the season, Gary Harvey says neighbors are eager to take down their lights Dec. 26 and escape the crowds.
“But the day after Christmas, you can come through here, and everybody’s taking everything down,” Gary said. “At night time, you can’t even get out of your driveway. It is packed.”
Large crowds raise the odds of meeting friends by chance. Darrin Williams, ’19, says lights, friends, and hot chocolate helped put him in a festive mood.
“I thought it was pretty cool, with all the lights and stuff,” Williams said. “I saw my friend Kevin by chance. I was like, ‘Yeah, Christmas is here.’ I liked the lights and hot chocolate.”
For those looking for a fun Christmas experience, Cindy Lane provides a festive time.
The slideshow below shows images of Cindy Lane:
This author can be reached via email: Bryce Foshee and via Twitter.
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