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Press Coverage

Christmas Tree Lane lights up the
night again

By FELICIA COUSART MATLOSZ
Fresno Bee
December 3, 2006

Believe it or not, the folks on Fresno's historic Christmas Tree Lane have upped the wattage this year.

The annual holiday tradition on Van Ness Boulevard draws about 100,000 visitors each year from Fresno and beyond — and that's also the number of lights that brighten the two-mile stretch from Shields Avenue to Shaw Avenue.

"We have a little more lights this year on the trees," Dean Alexander, the lane's coordinator and go-to guy, says before last night's opening, one of two walk-only nights. The other is Dec. 12.

He says an additional 5,000 have been looped into the landscape: "We're even trying to decorate the smaller trees."

Organizers also plan to improve the sound system. And Alexander is coordinating with a neighbor on a special treat for the walk-only nights — artificial snow will fall on visitors near the end of the lane.

The 84th annual edition is sponsored by the Fig Garden Homeowners Association, and Children's Hospital Central California helps sponsor the walk-only nights. Admission is free, but donations are welcomed to maintain the lane.

Alexander's own home near the lane's end is spectacular. He and his wife, Shawn, make sure the scene is an eye-boggling feast, with everything from Christmas trees to a train featuring wood cutouts of Disney characters.

Joey Ponce de Leon and Rick Gomez, relatively new residents, say they will do their part. Ponce de Leon, now 34, lived in Fresno as a young boy and was aware of the event. But he didn't fully fathom its grandeur and schedule until last December, when he moved from Pasadena back to Fresno, to Van Ness Boulevard.

"I didn't know it was an everyday thing," Ponce de Leon says, with a smile. "We know now."

Last year, they quickly found a 6-foot-tall wood cutout of Santa Claus and other decor. This year, they planned to have a designer help decorate the front yard.

The lane's annual displays take commitment. The work at Alexander's own home begins weeks in advance. Is it worth it? Yes, he says, when he hears the oohs and ahhs.

"It's unique to Fresno," he says. "No other city has Christmas Tree Lane."

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