“Christmas Tree Lane” Highlights
(Updated January 2004)
- 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
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
“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
-- Letter to Residents from the first “Christmas Fairyland
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
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
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
– 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,
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
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
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
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
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.