The Christmas Light Show Switches On
For most of the year, Sandra Bostrom quietly concentrates on the classics. But when the holidays draw near, the Cal State Northridge piano professor plays a different tune.
Santa Claus is coming to town, and he certainly won’t miss the Bostroms’ Sherman Oaks home.
And how could he? There are thousands of colored Christmas lights, a gingerbread house, candy canes, a jack-in-the-box, gift boxes and rocking horses for neighboring children to ride.
“This happens every year,” neighbor Martin Cruz said. “She really loves to go crazy.”
For about 10 years, Bostrom has slowly added to her fabulous holiday yard collection. Except for the traditional outside lights, she constructs most of the decorations herself, starting about six weeks before the Thanksgiving weekend, when the show officially begins.
“It’s almost taken on a life of its own,” Bostrom said. “I’m not a particularly crafty person, but I do know what I like. I enjoy the festivity of it all. And it really gets people into the spirit of the holiday.”
Bostrom has seen her neighborhood transform as well.
“It used to be that hardly anyone put up lights,” she said. “But I’ve whipped them into shape. I can be pretty persuasive, you know.”
And each year, there are more and more looky-loos.
“Word of mouth really travels,” she said. “It used to be that only kids from around here came to see what we’d put up in the yard. But each year, it seems like there are more and more cars driving by. And it’s really for them, you know. The kids. Their faces sparkle as much as the lights do.
“And the parents enjoy it, too. It’s wholesome entertainment, and it’s free.”
Part of the holiday fun is hopping in the car and discovering what your neighbors are doing for the holidays, she said.
Most families that decorate for the season have been doing so for years. Here’s what some San Fernando Valley residents are up to:
* 4447 Atoll Ave., Sherman Oaks. The Bostroms. Gift packages large enough for a child to climb into, a handmade gingerbread house and jack-in-the-box, candy canes and lights.
* “Candy Cane Lane” in Woodland Hills has been a Valley institution for more than 35 years. Originally, almost all homes in the six-block area were lit, and viewers came from miles around to see the massive explosion of Christmas lights. The area has survived the migration of households, and even the energy crisis, fairly successfully. It’s bordered by Oxnard Street, Corbin Avenue, the Ventura Freeway and Winnetka Avenue.
* 7930 Bobbyboyar Ave., West Hills. The Connellys have only been at this address for three years, but after growing up near “Candy Cane Lane,” they wanted to establish a tradition of their own. They have lots of lights, reindeer, Santa and a Nativity scene.
* 23716 Arminta St., West Hills. The Markowitz family has celebrated its Jewish and Christian ancestry for six years with about 10,000 lights and other decorations.
* The 23700 block of Arminta Street has followed the Markowitzes’ lead, with many surrounding homes putting up Christmas lights.
* 5831 Grey Rock Road, Agoura Hills, gets more extravagant every year. In this, the Kaplans’ 12th season, the number of outside lights has swelled to about 60,000.
* 42654 35th St. West, Lancaster. The Majors family has four antique trains that travel through Santa’s land. There also are Care-Bears, Disney characters, a Ferris wheel and, of course, lights.
* 40551 163rd St. East, Lake Los Angeles. The Holbrooks have persuaded their neighbors to “light up” this year. The entire block is filled with Santas, Nativity scenes and lots of colorful lights.
* 19725 Kittridge St., Canoga Park. The Streifers display lights, a wooden snowman, reindeer and a life-size Santa Claus.
* 3216 N. Kenneth Road, Burbank. The Averys have been decorating their home for more than 15 years. This Christmas, they have a large stable scene, candy canes, snowmen and toy soldiers to go along with the traditional lights.
* The Stewart family, 11640 Broment Ave., Pacoima, and several neighbors get involved with outdoor holiday themes. The Stewarts’ corner of the street features religious themes, a tree and lights.
* 1919 N. Fairview St., Burbank. The Resh family has a train, Santa and his reindeer, cartoon characters, penguins traveling to the North Pole and religious figures.