FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) — After the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancelation of “walk nights” at Fresno holiday staple Christmas Tree Lane in 2020, many say they’re excited to get back to normal in 2021.
What is Christmas Tree Lane?
The holiday tradition started in 1920 where a single tree on Van Ness Boulevard was decorated in memory of a child who passed away. A century later, officials say the event spans nearly two miles, features 140 homes and 2.5 million lights.
When is Christmas Tree Lane open?
In 2021, Christmas Tree Lane is open from Sunday to Thursday starting at 6:00 p.m. through 10:00 p.m. On Fridays and Saturdays, the attraction is open from 6:00 p.m. through 11:00 p.m. The holiday extravaganza runs from Dec. 1 to Dec. 25.
Where is Christmas Tree Lane?
During the Christmas Tree Lane festivities, Van Ness Boulevard flows northbound only to allow for cars to drive through and view the decorations. The entrance is located at Shields Avenue and Van Ness Boulevard and the lane continues all the way to Shaw Avenue.
What about walk-only nights in 2021?
Unfortunately, normal may not be in the cards for the holiday season in 2021 as “walk nights” have been canceled again. According to Christmas Tree Lane’s official website, the event is classified as an “outdoor mega event.”
According to the California Department of Public Health, an outdoor mega-event is defined as an event with 10,000 or more people. Those events include conventions, concerts, sporting events, fairs, festivals, theme parks, races and marathons among others.
For outdoor mega-events, the CDPH makes several recommendations, including asking attendees to provide proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test.
“During the walk nights you have 30,000 to 40,000 people,” explained Dean Alexander, chairman for Christmas Tree Lane, in 2020. “I mean, if you’ve ever been out here you know you are shoulder to shoulder to people and there is no way to do social distancing,”
According to Christmas Tree Lane organizers, the lane crosses 23 streets, has 40 points of entry and officials from the Fig Garden Homeowner Association, the organization that produces Christmas Tree Lane, say that they do not have the resources to verify vaccination or test results at the event, therefore 2021 “walk nights” will be canceled.
For their part, the Fresno County Department of Public Health encourages responsible participation in Christmas Tree Lane.
“Because walking nights will not be available this year, the FCDPH encourages residents to join friends, family, and neighbors in this historic community event and drive through Christmas Tree Lane,” said a release from the Fresno County Department of Public Health in part.
“If individuals are not yet vaccinated, they can protect themselves and loved ones during the holiday season. Adults who are already vaccinated can also get a booster shot if it has been six months or more since their second Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or 2 months since a J&J vaccine. Vaccines are readily available in most pharmacies or by signing on to https://myturn.ca.gov.”
How to walk down Christmas Tree Lane in 2021
However, those hoping to grab some cocoa and walk down the lane may not be totally out of luck. According to the Christmas Tree Lane frequently asked questions page, walking or riding bicycles is allowed “non-walk” nights.
Additionally, dogs are allowed to walk Christmas Tree Lane, although as a dog-walker you are asked to use a leash and encouraged to clean up after your furry friend should they need to take care of their “personal business.”
Christmas Tree Lane organizers are excited to show off the Central Valley tradition. Alexander’s house is the grand finale of the lane, and he says the event still brings him joy every year.
“It’s something that’s special to Fresno it’s something that no other place has you know you get people all over the world come and they are just amazed at what we put on,” said Alexander. “When you have people drive by and say, ‘Wow, look at this,’ you know, that brings joy to me because I am making them have a wonderful Christmas.”