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Christmas tradition lights up local neighborhood

Thursday, December 15, 20111599 views

Once again this year, the magic of Christmas and community has transformed a local street into a display of lights and seasonal holiday cheer.

For the 64th year, the Glen Arbor Street cul-de-sac, at 1500 South 1735 East, has transformed into “Christmas Street.” The long-standing holiday tradition draws carloads of people from all over the Salt Lake Valley to the Sugar House neighborhood to view the beautifully lit houses and festive Christmas tree in the center of the display.

Each year, a family in the neighborhood is put in charge of organizing the Christmas Street activities. This holiday season, resident Carrie Browden and her family spearheaded the effort.

Browden, who has lived on Glen Arbor St. for about four years, said her family moved into the neighborhood because of traditions such as the Christmas Street activities.

“We really like the feeling of community on the street,” Browden said. “There are folks whose families have lived here for decades.”

According the neighborhood lore, the tradition was started by four women living on Glen Arbor Street in the 1940’s. Each year, the neighbors would agree to decorate their homes; the women made special stockings for the children and planned a holiday party complete with a visit from Santa Claus.

As the Christmas tradition grew with the community, the neighborhood achieved local fame for the special Christmas Street decorations.

Many local families from all over the Salt Lake Valley have made it a part of their holiday tradition to drive to Glen Arbor and cruise Christmas Street with their car lights dimmed.

At the beginning of December each year, the families in the neighborhood gather to put up and decorate a Christmas tree that stands in the center of the cul-de-sac.

Representatives from YESCO, a neon sign company, install the official Christmas Street banner that marks the entrance to the cul-de-sac.

The neighbors also still hold special holiday block parties complete with a visit from Santa, hot chocolate and other treats.

There have been some changes made over the years, such as a recent upgrade a couple of years ago to more energy efficient LED lighting for the decorations on the street lamps and the star at the top of the Christmas tree, but the tradition has remained largely unchanged throughout the years.

Glen Arbor resident of nine years, Rio Christensen said neighbors always get to choose how much they want to participate in the tradition.

“It’s up to each home owner,” Christensen said. “Some people go more overboard than others. We try to put up as many lights as we can.”

The official Christmas Street in Sugar House will run this year from Dec. 3 through Jan. 1. The best times to visit are between the hours of 5:30 and 10:30 p.m., or beginning each evening at dusk.

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