Holiday Lights On The Peninsula

Each evening from 5pm to 11pm through New Year’s Eve, the homes along Palo Alto’s Fulton Street off the Embarcadero twinkle, glitter, and glow with millions of festive lights and decorations.

In 1940, Palo Alto residents Judge Edward Hardy, his wife Dorothea, and their neighbors, George and Charlotte English, were playing bridge. During the evening, they decided it would be a wonderful neighborhood tradition to celebrate the season by placing lit evergreen trees in each of their front. The residents of the 1700 and 1800 blocks of Fulton Avenue wholeheartedly agreed to participate and Christmas Fairyland Lane was born.

For the past seventy-four years, what is now called Christmas Tree Lane has thrived, enduring blackouts during World War II, waves of vandalism, the energy crisis of the 1970’s, as well as other challenges throughout it’s history. The illuminated Fulton Street, referred to by the Palo Alto Times as a “symbol of the star of peace”, is still alive and well, having been embraced by new homeowners and embellished upon with each passing holiday. It even has its own Yelp page, where those who have visited chime in on the displays, giving it four and a half stars out of five! The neighborhood event has won a multitude of accolades over the years for its residential outdoor lighting display.

To take in all of the Yuletide sights and sounds, it best to park on an adjacent avenue and stroll down Fulton rather than driving. This will allow you to see all of the wonderful details each resident has in their personalized holiday wonderland. Families often make a visit to Christmas Tree Lane part of their holiday outings, walking along the sparkling street, hot cocoa in hand, and immersing themselves in the delightful décor. Others choose to stay snug in their car, driving slowing down the lane with their parking lights illuminating the way. The impressive architectural ‘eye candy’ along Fulton Street is also truly something to behold, adding to its stunning beauty.

There are many other neighborhoods in Silicon Valley that create their own festive atmospheres during the holidays, many of which offer more high tech gadgetry and over the top displays. But there is something so simple and sweet about Fulton Street’s Christmas Tree Lane.  In 1996, the Palo Alto Daily News claimed Fulton Street “is what Norman Rockwell would have painted if he were from Palo Alto”. As an added benefit, local eateries and shopping are nearby, creating the opportunity for dinner and a little holiday shopping or a quick Yuletide treat.

The historical highlights of this time-honored tradition are outlined in detail on its webpage. This classic seasonal celebration along a charming Palo Alto street is most definitely worthy of adding to your list of holiday must-see’s.