Coronado’s own Candy Cane Lane, located in a quiet cul-de-sac at the end of Country Club Lane (400 and 500 block), has been a Christmas tradition since the early 1960s. Each December, residents in the neighborhood adorn their lawns with large painted plywood decorations to create an exquisite Christmas display down the whole block. Though participation is not exactly a requirement of residency in the area, most people go all out with decorations and enjoy being part of this Coronado Christmas tradition.
Come see the lights of Candy Cane Lane – starts the second weekend of December.
The Coronado community also enjoys this annual display, and the street becomes laden with pedestrians and slow-moving drivers that come to view the spectacle.
Long-time Country Club Lane resident Kevin Riley explains that women in the neighborhood (including his mother) instituted Candy Cane Lane in 1962. A letter was distributed to others on the block explaining the idea and inviting them to a meeting (which later became an annual occurrence) to discuss decoration plans. The event caught on quickly and has since become a force of habit for Country Club’s residents. In the past, Candy Cane Lane had an annually changing theme such as Christmas Carols or Toys, and residents would decorate accordingly. For the past several years, no specific themes have been established; decorations must simply relate to Christmas.
The use of decorative plywood cutouts dates back to the original Candy Cane Lane, and similar décor is still used today. Handy residents in the area actually created the decorations themselves, by cutting different two-dimensional shapes and painting Christmassy people, scenery, toys, and other ornaments. Not all the originals still exist today, but most residents have built new decorations or had them made for the occasion. Though generic store-bought décor is not frowned upon, you won’t find much of it here – most houses are outfitted with unique custom pieces, in order to reflect the uniqueness of Candy Cane Lane itself. If residents move from the area, some may even leave the decorations behind for the next tenant to use during Christmastime.
Each house’s decorations vary and you’ll find almost everything Christmas-related – the block has wooden statues of Santa and Mrs. Claus, hard-at-work elves, wide-eyed children, and the pièce de résistance, a complete life-sized nativity scene displayed at the end of the cul-de-sac. I believe one of the houses also has Hanukkah-themed decorations, to keep it an inclusive tradition.
My family and I had the great pleasure of partaking in this Christmas ritual when we lived on the block for a few years in the late nineties through 2001. When we moved into our home in the neighborhood, there was just one thing left behind by the previous tenants: a painted wooden cutout of a Christmas-themed train. My parents also recall receiving the letter from the head organizer of Candy Cane Lane (who has been a resident of Country Club Lane since its inception and still lives there today) explaining its tradition and advising as to the types of decorations to display.
Decorating for Candy Cane Lane was especially fun for my sister and I, as we were elementary school-aged and Christmas was always a hugely important holiday in our family. For us, this was another exciting tradition to add to our celebrations. Being our first “real house” in Coronado (we lived in a condo for several years prior), our Country Club home was also our first with a lawn and ‘decoratable’ exterior, so decorating for Candy Cane Lane became one of the most enjoyable parts of the season.
On almost its fiftieth anniversary, the tradition of Candy Cane Lane is still going strong and remains a much-visited place during Christmas. The collective effort by the residents to create a street-long Christmas corner of Coronado is always a sight to see, and remains one of my personal traditions to check out each year. If you’re heading to see Christmas lights in town this holiday season, this is the one place not to miss!