Sweet loop

Northeast Park Road is a small looping residential extension of Twenty-First Northeast, where the winding double track of Ravenna Boulevard puts paid to Twenty First as a named entity. Every Christmas, this little neighborhood of two dozen very nice old tudor houses becomes transformed into a wonderland of colored lights and decorations and calls itself Candy Cane Lane. I suppose there is a Candy Cane Lane in every large city, but this one has apparently been “in residence” since the 1940s.

It has been one of our holiday traditions since Mara’s second Christmas to visit Candy Cane Lane. The first year, if I recall correctly, we merely joined the caravan of automobiles driving down the one-car-wide street one night when we happened to see it on our way home from Christmas shopping. As soon as it’s dark, Ravenna Boulevard jams up with cars trying to turn into Candy Cane Lane or exit from the other end of Candy Cane Lane. For the last three years, however, we have made a point to park the car and walk through. 

In front of our favorite house in the Lane.

Candy Cane Lane is not the most incredible light show in Seattle. Certainly there are individual houses that fairly pulse with colored wattage in every neighborhood, and there are other rows and streets that, simply by accident, contain a greater absolute number of houses done up in blazing electric yulefire. There’s a house just a block away from us that has more lights on it than any single house in Candy Cane Lane, and over on Maple Leaf there’s a house whose yard is jam packed with colored lights in different grouped areas — food lights such as chilis and tomatoes, Halloween lights such as skeletons and pumpkins, Christmas lights of course, ocean lights such as shells and fish, Jewish lights such as menorahs  — and which is topped by a large star of Bethlehem attached to a scaffold on the roof. Celebrants may wander into the yard and investigate all the different areas, and there is a donation box posted on the walkway.

What makes Candy Cane Lane unique is that every single house in the loop joins in. There may be a neighborhood covenant for all I know that mandates participation, but at a minimum there are signs — one in each yard — that express the equivalent of the word “Peace” in languages from around the world (one sign read “Suhl” and had “Afghan” written underneath, though I believe that this is simply an Arabic word).  But most houses also have either some yard decorations, some strings of lights along the roof, a display in the windows, front pillars wrapped in broad red ribbon to look like candy canes, or all of these. One of our favorites has old-time wooden toys in its front window, and another has a white-bearded nutcracker riding a rocking horse. In the traffic circle, a large circular hedge is fitted with a revolving row of figures — one year it was drummers; this year it was ice skaters.

Mara has an uncanny memory. As we passed the last house, which had a large train on the porch, she commented that it was different, that last year this house had had a tea set out on the porch. After she mentioned this I recalled that, yes, we had let her walk up the steps of this house last year for a closer look at the large dolls sitting at kid sized tables and chairs. 

Obviously some years it snows, some years it’s clear, and some years it’s wet. Tonight it was raining, but a tradition is a tradition. 


8 Responses to “Sweet loop”

  1. 1 Louis December 22, 2009 at 12:52

    I never knew there existed a Candy Cane Lane in Seattle, and one that´s been around since the 1940´s! In my old Bellevue neighborhood, we had a lot of houses with lights, but there was only house that had an over-the-top display, which aside from lights included Santa, reindeer, a snowman and I think a nativity scene. We used to affectionately refer to them as, “the Whoopdeedoos”.

    I remember visiting the Candy Cane Lane in Edmonton, Alberta, one year. A most colorful neighborhood at night made brighter by the blanket of white. Man, was it cold. LePompier cold, I think.

    • 2 jstwndrng December 22, 2009 at 16:36

      I love the Whoopdeedoos. They sound like neighbors in a sitcom. Yes, snow definitely makes it more magical. I imagine Edmonton would do it up large for a Candy Cane Lane, the way they do shopping malls.

      “Africa hot” – Matthew Broderick
      “LePompier cold” – Louis

  2. 3 Marni January 11, 2010 at 18:00

    So- I said I’d comment as I “read down”, catching up as I am! This actually makes me so sad- I had friends from the Eastside who wanted to go to Candy Cane Lane with me this year and I had absolutely no idea to what they were referring and so we didn’t go….and it’s just not that far from whence I abide. Oh well- next year.

  3. 4 jstwndrng January 11, 2010 at 21:16

    You can go with us next year. Bring the Darbz. I’m surprised that your friends would want to come over the lake for a ten minute walk. Has the Eastside become such a cultural wasteland? We do it because it’s right in our neighborhood and we are the guardians of someone for whom a little Christmas magic goes a long way.

    • 5 Marni January 12, 2010 at 21:51

      “Has the Eastside become such a cultural wasteland?”??????!

      Do you remember the Eastside?
      And they live in Duvall- ‘nough said.

      • 6 jstwndrng January 12, 2010 at 23:21

        Oh. Right. What was I thinking.

        Actually, there is at least one cool Eastside Christmas thing: my sister sings in the Bellevue Chamber Chorus, and this year they sang aboard a boat in the Christmas Ship Festival. If I was on the Eastside I’da probably found a beach along the ships’ route to hunker down on that evening because apparently it is rather magical to hear the choirs from across the water. Maybe next year we should all collect ourselves and the Whoopdeedoos and go down to the lakeshore.

  4. 7 Louis January 13, 2010 at 02:34

    I´ll have to ask my folks if the Whoopdeedoos still live there.

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