Holiday Lights at Mimi & Papa’s

IMG_3384Happy holiday break, y’all!  How’s it been?!!!

We have traveled, ate a LOT, walked a LOT, shopped a LOT and are now about to bring in the new year. I just can’t believe it.  Time…slow down!!!

Every other year we are in California for Christmas.  My parents live in a little town called Willow Glen, just outside of downtown San Jose, CA.  Have you been in California during the holidays?!  There is no snow on Christmas morning (booo!!! So jealous of our Portland friends!!!) but we do have the most amazing evening walks filled with a magical display of Christmas lights around.


The lights tradition all started years ago when a Willow Glen resident, Frank Badagliacca came up with an idea.  He noticed neighbors putting up potted Christmas trees in their front yard.  He promoted the idea to the streets around him and the idea exploded.  Charlie Brown Trees, approximately 3′-4′ tall graced the yards of many homes in the Willow Glen area.  Bright, colorful lit-trees with a single white light on the top lined the blocks of their neighborhood and still do today.  It’s so impressive as you drive past the streets, look down and see a row of lit trees.  What I love is if that is all the light decorating you could muster that year, it still made an impact on the whole community.


But NOW!  The Lights of Willow Glen reputation has EXPLODED!  There are not just little Charlie Brown trees, (in fact, those are almost secondary) every street north of Willow Street and West of Lincoln Avenue, has a theme.  Christmas tree arches, simple white arches, shooting stars, wreaths, candy canes, icicles, etc.  80% (or maybe 90%–it’s a LOT) of the houses on these streets have at least one of the theme items in their front yard.  A stroll thru the neighborhood now becomes a magical light extravaganza!


(That’s my dad and Roxie, the Westie 🙂 My Lucy-dog is  tugging at my feet!


Have you see all the light projection units this year?  It is really popular.  It projects a word, or a moving reindeer, or just a bunch of moving lights.  My favorite use of this technique was at this house: #stopbymyhouse .  They projected the light up into the branches of the trees!!!  Isn’t that cool?!!!  It made the tree branches dance and sparkle.  I just LOVE IT!


At the end of the blocks north of Willow Street, I can’t even capture in one photograph the massive collaboration effort of these neighbors to display the “Willow Glen Reindeer”.  Combined in the effort, 5 adjoining houses on Glen Eyrie Avenue participate together to display an enormous sleigh, attached by lights to 4 also enormous reindeer.  It’s is over-the-top impressive. (Note the size: the sleigh is as big, if not bigger than the Range Rover in the driveway! So crazy!!!)


And last but not least…what would a light display in Willow Glen be without an enormous lit up willow tree on Willow Street???!!!!  For many years, this age old willow tree was wrapped with thousands of lights every year until the owners got too old to do it anymore.  Sadly, the house went up for sale.  We were sad to see the neighbors go and wondered what would happen to the lit up willow tree.  The tree was dark for many years, until last year.  The new owners have started up the tradition once again.  I can’t thank them enough.  It truly is the symbol for this small town in the middle of San Jose, CA.

If you happen to be in the bay area for the holidays, it is definitely worth the drive to a  to stop by Willow Glen.  On a crisp clear night, grab dinner (I’ll share that info in another post.  SOOOO many good restaurants!), a cup of hot cocoa, park the car and stroll the streets of Willow Glen.  It is the ultimate magic of Christmas.  (Map of the light displays)

Happy Holidays, y’all!!!!  And see you in 2018!!!!!!

xo, Melissa

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