“Christmas Tree Lane” Highlights

(Updated January 2004)

1940 - The idea for a “Christmas Fairyland Lane” was conceived over a bridge table by Judge & Mrs. Edward Hardy and the George Englishes. The Howard Hansens and the Leland Webers joined in. A committee was formed to contact other families. “Everyone readily agreed to the idea. The original lights were bought in one lot and the men measured off the street for placement of trees in front of homes at proper intervals.”

Mr. Weber tells of the rainy evening when he, Judge Hardy, and George English set out to deliver the residents’ new equipment. “At the first house we went to they said, ‘Thank you very much’, and we said, ‘Thank you, my great grand-aunt! Get a ladder and come and help! At almost every house they offered us refreshments. We had a wonderful time.”

1942 - “Dimmed, but not silenced.” The one year the “Lane” was dark – due to a blackout during World War II.

1943 - Dim-out regulations were relaxed, and although trees and light bulbs were hard to find in wartime, the street shone again and was called by the Palo Alto Times a “symbol of the Star of Peace.”

“We urgently recommend, in view of the heavy motor traffic we have experienced in the past, that our cars be parked in the drive-ways instead of along the curb. This will eliminate the cause of accidents that have occurred in the past and will protect the children when crossing the street in the evenings” -- Letter to Residents from Judge Hardy

“As it is difficult to replace lighting units, and as it now will be impossible to do so for the near future (the war years), may we suggest that when a resident leases or sells his home he make some arrangement whereby the lessee or buyer can retain the use of the equipment. For example, the equipment could be computed in the purchase price of the house when sold. In the alternative, the equipment could be turned over to one of the committee as custodian, as has been done in the case of four leased residences. As much of the equipment was cut to fit each particular location, this procedure is highly desirable and will save the new resident a great deal of trouble in securing and fitting new equipment. Only in this way with your help can we be assured of the continuance of our “Christmas Fairyland Lane”.
-- Letter to Residents from the first “Christmas Fairyland Lane Committee”

1947 - “Something new was added this year – a spotlighted Santa with a pack on his back, about to descend the Hardy’s Chimney (1830 Fulton). Missing are the seven dwarfs that in previous years were seen climbing over the house at 1850 Fulton Street (they were badly in need of a paint job and should be back again next year.) Sightseers also missed the snowman that usually adorned the living room window of 1716 Fulton Street.
-- Palo Alto Times

1959 - Awarded “Special Citation of Merit for Outstanding Illumination” by the San Francisco Examiner and Outdoor Christmas Tree Association of California. The Saturday morning coffee was first held.

1960 - Awarded “Honorable Mention” in Residential Outdoors Lighting Display by the Palo Alto Junior Chamber of Commerce. Pipes were placed in the ground about 25’ apart. Colored lights were placed on each tree, with a white light on the top. The first trees were 7’ tall – the street sycamores were young saplings!

1961 - Awarded “Second Place” in Residential Outdoors Lighting Display by the Palo Alto Junior Chamber of Commerce.

“Two 18-year-old youths, their pockets bulging with Christmas tree lights, were arrested last night on Fulton Street. Police recovered all 138 bulbs and were planning to distribute them to the homeowners on Fulton today.”
-- Palo Alto Times

Residents unanimously sign a proposal to turn Christmas Tree Lane into “Flag Lane”. The proposal was “to use our pipe stands (used for the Christmas Trees) for the display of uniform American Flags on July 4th. Yule Lane becomes “American Flag Lane” … Residents of the 1700 and 1800 blocks of Fulton Street today displayed American flags in observance of Veterans Day. The purpose … to stimulate patriotism and make the flag fashionable again.
– Palo Alto Times

1962 - “Despite the fact that many of the original supporters have since moved from Fulton Street, the project has never been marred by an unadorned tree.” – Palo Alto Times

1963 - “In Palo Alto we saw the most impressive holiday décor … (detailed description and history) … an example of enviable community spirit.” – The Daily, Junction City, Kansas

Wave of weekend vandalism!

1964 - Palo Alto City utilities crew changed all streetlights from white to red for the holidays. Thousands of visitors’ cars that drive down the street each season can appreciate the full impact of the decorative lights.

1967 - Except for a three-year absence, the Seven Dwarfs have been on the roof, sliding down the porch, peering in the window, and standing on hands of the lawn of 1850 Fulton since 1949.

1968 - Anonymous Jordan Place teenagers collected $20 in coins from friends to reimburse Christmas Tree Lane residents for bulb vandalism. “We just want you to know that we like Christmas Tree Lane and hope it will be lighted again. We hope our contribution will encourage you all to continue this Christmas treat despite the expensive thefts which we want to help defray.” -- Neighbors of Jordan Place

1969 - “Tree rustlers do seem to be on the increase, but we hope this year it won’t happen at all. Last year they tried out an informal ‘tree patrol’ of some neighbors to discourage thefts.” – Palo Alto Times

1970 – The 15-year old son of the owner at 1810 Fulton built the stable and manger scene from plywood. The Mary, Joseph and Wise men gather around the cradle holding the Baby Jesus.

1973 - The ENERGY CRISIS … President Nixon announced that there should be no decorative lighting. Christmas Tree Lane responded by decorating their trees with 20 shining red plastic bows, a silver star at the top, and lamp posts wrapped in red ribbon.

1974 - 34-year old Christmas Tree Lane lit up again! The Hardy Family (1830 Fulton) who made the original plywood Santa in 1947, passed it to the Stone Family (1731 Fulton) for their chimney.

1978 – Frosty, the Snowman finally returns to 1716 Fulton. “In 1976, the owner began building Frosty in her kitchen using chicken-wire and paper-mache. ‘It was so big that once I had it finished I couldn’t get it out of the kitchen. So I had to smash it and try again next year,’ she said. In 1977, she found a weather balloon and, with a friend, started constructing the snowman in her garage. The paper-mache was not drying well, so they set it outside in the sun. Heated, the air inside the balloon expanded and cracked the paper-mache. No repairs worked. She began building the present four-foot snowman in

1978 upstairs in her bedroom. She had to lower it out the window once it looked enough like a snowman to go on display.” --- Palo Alto Weekly

1981 – “Palo Alto Police Department said patrol units will keep an eye out for problems on Fulton Street, mainly to insure that traffic problems don’t develop.” – Times Tribune (including vandalism --- “Thank You” from the Christmas Tree Lane Residents)

1982 - The Christmas Sentry assumes its post at 1770 Fulton.

1983 - Addison School Chorus sings original song entitled “Let’s go strolling down Christmas Tree Lane” written by Monica and Paul Engle.

1984 - The handsome Nutcracker at 1705 Fulton and the Smurfs at 1715 Fulton, were created by Palo Alto HS student and 1715 Fulton former resident, Matt Schneider. The inspiration for the Nutcracker was the artwork on a Holiday cocktail napkin. Matt also created Mr. T who disappeared after a one year appearance.
Residents voted to underwrite an annual “Fulton Street Tree Spraying Program” for the 1700 and 1800 blocks of Fulton Street.

1986 - Jerry Graham’s television program “Bay Area Back Roads” televised our coffee at 1801 Fulton and aired at 6pm Sunday. Gingerbread Men and Candy Canes appear at 1726 Fulton.

1987 - “Bay Area Back Roads” aired again. Neighbors Abroad celebrated on Christmas Tree Lane.

1988 - Christmas Tree Residents –

“It’s a combination of living on a movie set and a freeway. It’s a lot of fun and a great place to live.”

“Residents who move from Fulton Street pass their outdoor lights on to the new owners to keep the decorating tradition going. Anything beyond that is up to homeowner.”

“I never get tired of it. I hope it never ends.”

“It’s a good feeling … giving pleasure to a lot of people. They really enjoy it. And, we love it.”
-- Times Tribune

1990 - Smurfs move from 1715 Fulton to 1716 Fulton. The “Happy Holidays” Train first appears at 1821 Fulton.

1991 – The original Hardy Santa returns from 1731 Fulton to its first home’s chimney at 1830 Fulton. “Santa’s Village” is designed and built by the residents of 747 Tennyson.

1992 - “Bears in the Window” appears at 1705 Fulton.

1993 - Neighbors Abroad again celebrated the holiday on Christmas Tree Lane. The figure of the Virgin Mary was stolen from the crèche at 1810 Fulton between 2:30 and 6:30AM. From the Nutcracker’s Suite, Clara and the Seven-Headed Mouse King arrive at 1705 Fulton. Three reindeer and Santa’s Sleigh arrive at 1830 Fulton.

1994 - “Christmas Tree Lane Highlights” on acid-free paper were placed in separate Palo Alto Centennial Time Capsules for:

Twenty-five years
Fifty years
One hundred years!

1996 – “It’s what Norman Rockwell would have painted if he was from Palo Alto.”
– Palo Alto Daily News

1997 - The Snow “People” Family - father, mother, daughter, daughter and son appear at 1833 Fulton.
“Each small Charlie Brown tree is strung with colored lights, with a white light on top. If you get it wrong, you get lectured,” said a Fulton Street resident. – Palo Alto Weekly

1998 – “The Night Before Christmas” featuring Santa, from the window – Pa in his cap, Santa’s children-sized Sleigh and reindeer appears at 1746 Fulton.

1999 - Gingerbread Men and Candy Canes moved to 1715 Fulton. Santa with his bag of toys on his back is watched by a large California brown bear at 1700 Fulton.

2000 - Santa and Mrs. Claus meet at the North Pole (1861 Fulton) for a Christmas kiss. Lollipops and candy canes align the sidewalk.

2001 – “Peace and Joy” Holiday Dancers, created by the residents of 1801 Fulton. Candy Canes move to 1716 Fulton. The 15-ft lighted tree at 1802 Fulton lights up the intersection of Tennyson/Fulton.

2003 - The lighted Star, 70-ft atop the redwood tree on the intersection of Tennyson/Fulton -- 1801 Fulton has return. Brighter than ever! (Encased in a squirrel
proof box, we hope.)

2004 – www.ChristmasTreeLane.org is launched.