The tradition of Candy Cane Lane decorations

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Ritika Ghosh

The giant inflatables in front of the Mahdavi residence is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to decor on Candy Cane Lane.

Every year, from December 4 to the 31, Walnut Drive near downtown Pleasanton transforms into Candy Cane Lane, a street filled with lights, Christmas decorations and all the joy of the holidays. 

“I’ve lived here for about 20 years and each year we decorate the whole street with all kinds of displays and lights and candy canes. It’s been a holiday tradition here at Pleasanton for almost 70 years,” said Robin Cruz.

A hotspot for friends, family and kids, Candy Cane Lane is always decked out in everything from hand-drawn Disney classics to giant inflatables. With string lights and cardboard cutouts, Candy Cane Lane truly captures the magic of the holidays.

“We brought our kids here every year when they were little. We moved here recently after they were already away in college, but there is something magical about it that we get as much joy out of doing it as when we see peoples faces,” said Renee Mahdavi.

Candy Cane Lane started 70 years ago when one of the original residents started decorating his house with tons of lights, and as a result he started bringing in awards from the city. He encouraged his neighbors to do the same and his passion for the holidays quickly spread throughout the street.

“Back in 1953 one man had a big ‘Merry Christmas’ sign that had all kinds of lightbulbs and it would cost him $300 extra for the month of December to light that sign and that was a lot of money back then,” said Robin Cruz.

The neighborhood is very close-knit and they often help each other decorate for the holidays. Every house of coarse has candy canes, but if needed neighbors donate decorations, making sure that by December 4, every house is looking spectacular. 

Familiar disney favorites such as Bugs Bunny and Tweety Bird are hand drawn and displayed in front of a home. (Ritika Ghosh)

“The deadline for our street to put our lights up is December 4 and most of the residents started decorating before, but we did it on the day off. We have a sleigh on our lawn that’s always popular, so I helped set that up,” said Colin Chatham (‘23).

There’s no written agreement that says the residents have to decorate, they do it simply because they love spreading holiday cheer. Now more than ever, especially after a pandemic, the Candy Cane Lane is doing what they can to uplift spirits. 

“I think particularly after the last couple years we have had, we need to find joy in our faith and beliefs and our holidays and just all of this. It just feels like a spark of happiness in the middle of all of this,” said Shareef Mahdavi.

With the holidays just around the corner, there is no better time to go visit Candy Cane Lane!Just a few steps from Main Street, Candy Cane Lane’s beautiful lights and festive decorations are sure to put a smile on your face.

“The world can be a cruel place and you think about it people want to have something to have joy about and hope for. If we can spread a little bit of that here, that’s [us] doing our part,” said Shareef.