EL SEGUNDO’S CANDY CANE LANE – EL SEGUNDO, CA
When it comes to tradition, not many cities on the West Coast, let alone small towns, exude tradition as much as El Segundo, California during the Holidays. Candy Cane Lane on the 1200 block of East Acacia Avenue is one specific block in town that that tends to sparkle more than all the other streets during the Christmas Season.
El Segundo prides its self on tradition and on “hometown” feel. The town has been doing that for literally one hundred years as it just celebrated it’s Centennial. During El Segundo’s past century, the town has consistently thrown parades throughout the year, none bigger than the El Segundo Holiday Parade. In fact, this year marked the 54th Annual Parade, which at the conclusion of the parade, Santa Claus himself finishes traveling the parade route and then hops aboard one of El Segundo’s beautiful Fire Department Fire Engines. Kris Kringle is then escorted by some of El Segundo’s finest Police Department, through the streets of the town, waving to all the good boys and girls, letting them know where he’s headed. They’re off to the opening night of Candy Cane Lane.
Though most every street in El Segundo seems to be decorated with Christmas lights during the season, one block truly displays the Holiday Magic, Candy Cane Lane. Since 1949 this cul-de-sac of 26 homes is closed off to cars, and each neighbor joins in on the no-holds-bar decorating. Every house on the block is decorated from the lawns to rooftops, each with a different theme. Acacia Avenue is transformed from a street into a community, one filled with Christmas Joy.
One of the best reasons why El Segundo’s Candy Cane Lane stands out among others in the Los Angeles area is that the entire street is blocked off to traffic all night and only open to pedestrians. This just adds to making it special, extremely special for the kids. Not only can everyone just stroll at their own pace, taking in each house at their leisure, go crazy with all the pictures of the incredible displays, or just non-stop selfies, but it allows for the piece de resistance… Santa Claus.
Yes, back to Santa Claus. The biggest night of Candy Cane Lane is opening night. The Fireman let the kids check out the Fire Truck, the Policemen pose for pics with the little ones and the families line up in full force for their chance to meet Saint Nick. With almost all the other Candy Cane Lane’s around L.A. only available to drive through, this one elevates it to a special place. After all, seeing the children’s faces light up, sitting on Santa’s lap pretty much sums up what this time of year is all about; that joy and wonder in a little kid’s eyes. It’s what we as adults live for and still fills our thoughts with memories of childhood past.
After the opening night Santa Claus is only there on most weekend nights leading up to Christmas, so make sure you check the current schedules. This year for example, though Candy Cane Lane was open from December 10th through December 23rd, 2017 from 6pm until 10pm, Santa only appeared on December 10th, 11th, 15th-18th, 20th, 22nd & 23rd and from 7pm until 9pm.
Secondly, since it’s FREE, which is fantastic, but since it doesn’t cost anything, and now with social media, Candy Cane Lane has surely grown in popularity among those coming from outside of El Segundo each night. How well known and popular you might wonder? Candy Cane Lane is a landmark on Google Maps and has its own Yelp page. That kind of popularity brings big crowds, so much so that for the very first time in the 68 years history, the El Segundo Police used a couple of their vehicles as barricades at the entrance of the street and provided more Police presence for the safety to help manage traffic.
Thirdly, all those people mean a lot more cars than normal. Where one used to be able to park a few spots from Candy Cane Lane, now those days are usually over. But don’t let the parking discourage you. In fact, parking a few short blocks away just adds a bit to the night. Why? Well with the crisp weather, hopefully, a warm drink in hand, so many of the homes surrounding Candy Cane Lane now have joined in on the fun, decorating more than just a few lights, getting in on their own bit of pride knowing that many people will be walking by.
Just like there may be long lines to wait to meet Santa Claus, (speaking of which, there are no public restrooms, so plan accordingly), but lately they’ve been selling hot chocolate at Santa’s tent. This year they were also collecting monetary and packaged food donations with all the proceeds going to local charities. You can help out a good cause, plus after receiving a Candy Cane from Santa, stir it in your hot chocolate as you return to enjoy all the lights.
This is the pride and joy of that place known to locals as “Mayberry By The Sea”. This is their Candy Cane Lane, unlike any other towns. El Segundo hosts numerous humongous Annual events throughout the year…the Independence Day Festival by day & 4th Of July Fireworks display at night, the El Segundo Home Town Fair & Carnival, the El Segundo Richmond Street Fair, and the Halloween festivities just to name a few. They even had their massive Centennial Celebration. But El Segundo loves, and I mean loves their Holiday Parade that leads to the opening night of Candy Cane Lane.
Not enough can be said of the dedication of the 26 homeowners who year in and year out, put on the displays that they do. As I mentioned, each home is done up to a different theme and over the years each resident seems to stick to their expertise, except or a few tweaks here and there. The results are quite dazzling. From the moment you approach the beginning of Candy Cane Lane, you hear the music, see the twinkling of each house lighting up the entire block as it begins to warm up your heart on those chilly nights.
On a side note, one of the homes at the end of the block, located right next to Santa’s Sleigh, was up for sale. My wife wanted us to buy this house so bad! I, of course, thought heck no, lol. What a headache to do this every year and all she thought of was how incredible it would be to become a part of this group. Then her wheels started rolling of, if we could move there, how would we decorate the house? What could we do that hasn’t been done and even stand out above the others? Luckily for me, and unfortunately for her, home prices in El Segundo just continue to skyrocket and that house was slightly out of our price range… whew.
It’s probably for the best, as these homeowners surely know what they’re doing. It’s more than just stringing up a set of lights here and there. When I mentioned how each has it’s own theme and many have their own favorites, we feel the same. My all-time favorite has since changed. One of the houses had an immense, large vintage train set on the front lawn. But last year they had a for-sale sign on the trains and now they changed their theme. Luckily another house carries on with the tradition with trains, though not as big.
Sorry little Sheldon Cooper, but the North Pole Airport is still there, Frosty the Snowman & Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer, Snoopy & the Red Baron, Bugs Bunny & Elmer Fudd, to the Nativity scene and Peace On Earth.
This year one house updated theirs with Christmas Vacation theme, so the 80’s lover in me kind of favored that one. Need to stop for a moment, there are even a couple of houses that show classic Christmas movies on their front lawns, including Santa’s Theatre. All and all, it’s just special to be able to walk up and down the street taking every house in.
One last note, remember the Christmas and Holiday spirit if you come. Most importantly, respect the property of not only the homeowners on Candy Cane Lane, but those on the surrounding streets. The past few years there have been complaints of people arguing over parking spots, parking in front of fire hydrants, blocking driveways, dumping trash wherever, stomping across lawns, and even thinking it’s ok to use the El Segundo community for public restrooms. Let’s all be thankful for Candy Cane Lane, those that put it together, make it beautiful, maintain it and keep it safe for us to enjoy each and every year.
I first moved to El Segundo back in 1979, for almost 40 years now Candy Cane Lane has been a part of my life. When young, I enjoyed it with my Mom and friends, through the years with new friends and family and now it’s a yearly special tradition for my wife and I.
You have plenty of time to plan your schedule, pick a night with friends & family, don your Christmas sweaters, scarves & hats, and get your requests for Santa Claus in order. This next year I hope Candy Cane Lane in El Segundo becomes a magical tradition for you and your family if it hasn’t already.
CANDY CANE LANE – EL SEGUNDO, CALIFORNIA
1200 East Acacia Avenue
El Segundo, CA 90245