Sleepy Hollow and the Legend of Candy Cane Lane

These photos were taken last night at the Sleepy Hollow area of Torrance, which is known as Candy Cane Lane during the Christmas season; a look at the photos makes it easy to figure out why they call it that. On December 1, Tanya and I went there to take some photos like I have for the past couple of years. There were definitely a lot of lights that went up between then and now. Homes that we thought were decorated on December 1 had even more decorations on December 18. Even though it was cold and windy, there were a lot more cars and pedestrians out enjoying the view.

After the first night of photos I submitted a report to CNN’s iReport, and was subsequently vetted by them for use on CNN. In the vetting process I was asked things like why they called it Sleepy Hollow and how long has the mass decorating been going on. My dad had told me that he thought the decorating had been going on for 40 years; so I passed that along as fact. The Sleepy Hollow thing I could not answer because I did not recall it ever being called that when I was a kid. One of my Facebook and Business & Beer friends, Dan Thomas, sent me a message that he knew who the “father” of the Candy Cane Lane phenomena was and he put me in touch with him, a Mr. Bob Solomon. Here is his story:

In 1985 one of our neighbors, Renie Bowden, hung some white lights in his trees. I thought that this would be very cool if everyone on our block did it and suggested it to Renie. He wasn’t very interested so I put together a flier and my wife Diane, our three kids Robyn, Tara, Daniel and I went door to door asking each of our neighbors to do so. We offered to help anyone who needed it to put them up. We also planned a block party that year, blocked off both ends of our street, put tables down the middle of it and had a giant potluck. Virtually everyone participated. I picked up the Santa Suit from the Torrance Police Department and had Diane’s brother Brian Deluccio do Santa, passing out Reese’s Pieces on Reese Rd. to all the kids. We probably had 600 to 700 enjoy the evening, met neighbors that we had never talked to before but only waved to in passing, and the rest is history. The lights spread to neighboring streets and Sleepy Hollow was born. It hadn’t dawned on me before now, but reminded me of the story of “Stone Soup”. Happy birthday, Jesus.

After reading his story I went back and looked at the map associated with my directions to Sleepy Hollow and noticed that Reese Road sits, pretty much, right in the center of the Sleepy Hollow Christmas Lights Extravaganza, so that made sense. I also mentioned the story to a couple people involved with promoting the event, and while they did not know Mr. Solomon, they admitted that 1985 sounded about right.

The same sources that confirmed the 1985 date also admitted that they did not recall the name Sleepy Hollow being used until fairly recently. I tried finding some information on it, but all I found was a hint that it never was called Sleepy Hollow; however the article was no longer available online. When I look up the definition of “hollow” it suggests that it is a small vee-shaped riverine type of valley. That would be a pretty good description of the area and before homes were built in it; it probably resembled a hollow quite well.

The lights at Candy Cane Lane are on from 6:00 PM until 10:00 and will be on every night until at least New Years. If you decide you want to visit the decorated area, I highly recommend parking and walking the streets. It may be chilly but there are plenty of people selling hot chocolate, home-baked cookies and popcorn. There are carolers, musicians and Santa Claus can even be found. It is a good time for young and old, you will enjoy yourself. Merry Christmas.

Back to Photos of Candy Cane Lane

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