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 54 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. 9. The Lane will then be lit up every night from 5-10 p.m. until New Year’s Eve.
If you’ve never been to Candlestick Lane, it is memorable for how many of the houses participate (more than 20), 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.
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 got pretty extravagant,” said Charlie Halpin, whose mother is one of three remaining families who were part of the original display.
Halpin recalled days of his youth when he would watch a steady stream of traffic on his street during the holidays. “Myself or my sister would have to go out and stop traffic so mom and dad could leave and go to the grocery store,” he said. “We don’t have to do that now but for decades we’ve had that stream. The city has done a fabulous job of erecting street signs so people know where it is.”
The lighting ceremony begins at 6 p.m. on Dec. 9. A color guard will offer a presentation, and two “torch bearers” will stroll down the block as each house takes turns lighting up. The street will be closed during the ceremony so visitors can walk the street. It will re-open around 7 p.m.