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Holiday tradition celebrates 35 years

WEST ORANGE — A Christmas tradition turns 35 this year as families drive through a cul-de-sac in West Orange to see the lights and decorations. The street is known for having each house decorated through the holiday season.

Homeowners, in April 1980, decided to decorate each house for Christmas and have done so ever since, according to Lois Harris, one of the original homeowners.

“Terry Clark was the first one and it picked up from there,” Harris said. “We would host a dinner and blow a horn when all the lights went up.”

Harris said it was a sight to watch each house light up one after the other.

“Everybody helps everybody here,” Harris said. “There are 19 families and they all participate.”

Each house is decorated differently.

“We don’t take ideas from each other,” Harris said. “Each one tries to be different and let’s each have their own theme.”

When a family moves out, the lights are left behind to assist the new owner with the tradition.

This is the third year for Amy Crew to decorate on the street.

“We were told when we moved in about decorating,” Crew said. “We have added lights each year trying to keep up.”

Residents said there is some strategic planning involved if one needs to leave the house due to the number of cars driving through to see the lights.

“You really have to plan when to leave,” Crew said. “But it is worth it. We will sit outside closer to Christmas and you can hear the kids in the cars as they go by.”

Brad Robertson, of Little Cypress, along with Natesha, brought son, Chase, to see the lights after a Christmas program at school.

“I come every year since I was a kid,” Robertson said. “Now I bring my son.”

Jennifer Veitch started in October with her Candy land theme decorations.

“We have a last minute theme,” Veitch said. “We started making everything in October.”

The front yard is complete with game board, gumdrops and all on could imagine in a life size land of candy.

Veitch’s children, Shelby, 7, and Hunter, 4, wish each car driving by a Merry Christmas and say thank you for coming.

Veitch did not know how many lights were on display at her home.

“If my husband sees an empty hole, he puts up another string of lights,” Veitch said.

Veitch also said she already has plans for next years theme.

“I try to do a different theme every year,” Veitch said.

Residents do request visitors drive slowly so everyone can enjoy the lights.