By Kelly Youngblood
Urbana’s Candlestick Lane will once again bring Christmas cheer to fans all over the area.
The annual tradition has stayed strong for the last 51 years thanks to the very dedicated residents of this east Urbana neighborhood. Candlestick Lane (aka Grant Place, located between Cottage Grove and Philo Roads, and north of Florida) will celebrate the annual lighting ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 13 (see more info below). The Lane will then be lit up every night from 5-10 p.m. through Christmas; many houses stay lit through New Year’s.
If you’ve never been to Candlestick Lane, it is memorable for how many of the houses participate (27 this year!), putting up elaborate Christmas lights that vary from classic elegance to inflatables to fun characters and more. On some nights, Santa or Frosty are out on the street as the cars drive past, passing out toys or candy canes.
Rich Barnett, a Candlestick Lane resident for the last 38 years and “Frosty the Snowman” since 1978, says he truly enjoys this special holiday tradition.
“It feels good. The love that is shared and the feeling in the community- it’s like no other,” Barnett said.
The tradition started in 1963 when Illinois Power Company decided to hold a Christmas light decorating contest. Grant Place residents won the competition and decided to share the $100 prize on candlestick decorations for each home. Since then, homes on Grant Place have decked the halls and their homes with lights and holiday décor during the weeks before Christmas.
“It’s been quite a thing to have happen and it’s a great thing for the community. When I’m doing my Frosty thing, I’ll run into people from all parts of the world. Germany, Turkey and (someone) comes from Virginia every year just to see the lane- it’s amazing!” Barnett said. “It’s been going for years and years and it is still going. It’s as strong as it ever was.”
Want to be part of the lighting on Saturday, Dec. 13?
Put on your hats, gloves and Christmas cheer and help Frosty the Snowman and Santa Claus “light up” Candlestick Lane this year.
The lighting begins at 6 p.m. and will include a presentation by the Urbana American Legion Color Guard. Weather permitting, the guard’s old 1937 firetruck will also be on site.
Then follow Santa Claus, Frosty the Snowman, and “torch bearers” down the block as each house takes turns lighting up. You might also hear some good, old-fashioned Christmas caroling.
Candlestick Lane will be closed to traffic at 5 p.m. on Saturday evening until after the lighting ceremony is complete. Drivers in the area are asked to be careful and watch out for pedestrians.