Living on Fresno’s Christmas Tree Lane
With the holidays among us, we wanted to know what it would be like to live on one of the most popular streets during this time, Christmas Tree Lane.
Prepping for Christmas Tree Lane begins in October, when volunteers string lights on about 300 evergreen cedars, averaging up to 50 ft in height. Homeowners start decorating their lawns and putting up their lights by the time Thanksgiving comes around. The Fig Garden Homeowners Association provides an electrical drop cord to each home, by late November, to help provide enough power for the lavish setups.
140 homes along the two-mile Lane spend thousands of dollars decorating their lawns and rooftops. This labor or love transforms the street into an event that attracts 100,000 visitors annually and keeps growing in popularity each year.
There is no requirement to decorate your house and participate, but the homeowners know that “it’s something you know when you’re buying”, and many look forward to the occasion. According to Tom Hyatt, a real estate broker who’s lived on Christmas Tree Lane for 19 years, says that living on Christmas Tree Lane “adds value” to the your home. This also leads very little turnover in regards to homeownership, and when there, the houses stay in the family.
Christmas Tree Lane usually opens at the beginning of Dec, and offers two “walking only nights” where visitors enjoy caroling while walking the Lane. Some of the residents serve hot chocolate, hot cider, and cookies on the walk nights. On the other nights the two-lane street is closed to cross traffic, allowing visitors to drive the Lane slowly and enjoy each home. The Lane concludes with a special visitor from the North Pole who greets children. Many Fresno families make Christmas Tree Lane a tradition, and visit it every year.
Now in its 93rd year, Fresno’s Christmas Tree Lane is one of the nation’s longest-running holiday events. It started small, with the decoration of a single tree, in 1920, in memory of a child who had died. Sympathetic neighbors added decorations to their own trees, and year-by-year the decorating became a neighborhood activity. Since it has opened, the Lane has only been dark twice, first in 1941 due to wartime restrictions, and second in 1973 due to the energy crisis.
Over the years there has been a lot of progress in improving energy efficiency with LED lighting and improved wiring, which has cut power requirements by 50%. Christmas Tree Lane coordinators also team up with local high school students to build displays for any dark areas and help the elderly residents who are unable to decorate their yards.
Christmas Tree Lane is an end-to-end holiday experience unmatched by anything.