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Clovis residents anticipate upcoming holiday, decorate homes (VIDEO)

While Christmas Tree Lane (Van Ness Blvd.) in Fig Garden is the street most known for its Christmas decorations, it is not the only event of its kind. Wawona Ranch Estates in Clovis offers a similar atmosphere, with festive yard decorations and lights celebrating the Christmas spirit.

Also known as Cindy Lane, Wawona Ranch Estates, located in the neighborhood surrounding Cindy Ave. just east of Willow Ave., is home to well-lit home and yard decorations similar to Fresno’s Christmas Tree Lane with its festive lights and props. Both streets will light up Dec. 1 and stay lit until the day after Christmas.

This neighborhood tradition began 17 years ago, when Sandra Wecter on Cromwell Ave. decorated her house, inspired by her father’s love for Christmas. Soon, neighbors began decorating as well, and a tradition was born. Although Wecter has since moved away, the movement has continued to grow, now covering Athens Ave., Bedford Ave., Cromwell Ave. and Decatur Ave., all branching out from Cindy Ave.

John Miller decorated his house with various lights and a banner featuring Psalm 126:3. He has only lived in the neighborhood a few years, but he noted that the light displays and decorations are his way of celebrating Jesus’ birth.

“It?s a wonderful tradition that started many years ago,” Miller said. “We’re fairly new here, but it’s a great way to celebrate Christmas and Jesus’ birth. It’s a neighborhood tradition, so it’s almost disrespectful to your neighbors if you don’t participate.”

Linda Smith has been in the neighborhood since the tradition began and expresses her enthusiasm about the event.

“As far as the tradition of it goes, I love it,” Smith said. “We’ve been doing it for many years. We love having people come through, and we’ve actually had marriage proposals and things like that in the front yard. It’s just a lot of fun. It’s not really organized. There’s no committee or anything; it just happens.”

Neighborhood resident for 20 years, Chuck Wilson, keeps his enthusiasm for the event he has had since the beginning. Watching all the happy people see his hard work is payment enough for him, according to Wilson.

“Everybody does a wonderful job with the decorations,” Wilson said. “It takes me a good day to put up all the lights and decorations the way I want them. The best part is watching all the people walk through with smiles on their faces; it makes me feel appreciated.”

Harvey Nance has been a part of the tradition for about five years and loves participating in the event. Nance appreciates the neighborhood’s involvement and relishes in the time spent setting up the houses.

“It takes me three days to get everything up,” Nance said. “This year, my brother and nephew are here to help me out so things are moving a little bit faster, which is good. There is no code for this event. It’s kind of an unspoken rule that the day after Thanksgiving is when everybody starts to put all their lights and decorations. There are two or three houses in the neighborhood who don’t do it but they aren’t scolded for it. Everyone is supportive of any decision that is made, so it’s just a fun time.”

Ron Koop, grandfather of Morgan and Wyatt Koop, has been participating in the tradition for 18 years and hopes to continue for many more years. Due to age, the Koops are a little slower at getting their decorations up but enjoy every minute of it.

“I’ve been doing this thing for 18 years now,” Koop said. “It takes my wife and I about a week to finish putting up everything; we’re old and slower so it takes a little longer. It’s great seeing everyone walk through and their faces being lit up with excitement. I hope to continue participating in this event for years to come.”

David Derhairbedin, neighborhood resident, enjoys seeing the neighborhood lit up with all the lights. He remembers when just a couple of houses were a part of it, and then it spreading like wildfire through all of the homes.

“It started out with just a few people decorating their homes and then it got crazy from there,” Derhairbedin said. “All of a sudden it was the entire neighborhood doing it and it just got better and better each year. My favorite part is having the bon fire with my family during a couple of the nights. We drink hot chocolate and hand out candy canes to people walking through; it’s a lot of fun.”

Clark Elementary School teacher Casey Tirapelli is a second-year resident to the neighborhood. Last year was the Tirapelli’s first year being a part of Cindy Lane. Although overwhelming at first, they enjoyed taking part in the occasion, appreciating the neighborhood’s help.

“It was a little overwhelming at first expecially because we’re first time home owners but everyone is really supportive,” Tirapelli said. “We only have one outlet on the front of the house so we have to find more places to plug things in. Last year we had a lot of shorts, so we have to figure that out as well. It’s more organized this year because we put our decorations away in an orderly fashion so it’s running a lot smoother. I really enjoy watching people come through, and I know it’s going to be a good year this year.”

For a unique experience through Cindy Lane, horse-drawn hay rides are available through Mike Bushell. To contact Bushell, please call 559.960.2668. For those who plan ahead, he is already accepting reservations for December 2013.

The City of Clovis also offers carriage rides in December through Granite Pass Carriage Rides. They can be boarded at 4th and Pollasky at the Victoria Rose restaurant. Those rides are available on Saturday and Sundays
from 1-4 p.m.

For more features, read the Nov. 26 article, 36th annual ‘Messiah’ sing-along attracts crowds, fellowship.

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