Tree Lane lights up the
FELICIA COUSART MATLOSZ
December 3, 2006
Believe it or not, the folks on Fresno's historic Christmas
Tree Lane have upped the wattage this year.
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.
says an additional 5,000 have been looped into the landscape: "We're
even trying to decorate the smaller trees."
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."