Most Viewed Stories
Spirit of the Season: ‘Leave it to Beaver' in Yuba City
The well-known holiday magic of Toyon Way — better known as "Christmas Street" in December — has a much more organic and friendly history than a competition bursting out of thin air.
After all, $800 electric bills, double-digit inventories of extension cords and strands of lights crossing high above the street don't pop up all in one holiday season.
It wasn't always that way.
Debbie and Kevin Roush moved into a new home on the Yuba City street in December 1987.
Christmas that year consisted of several vacant lots, little landscaping and a chance to help lay the El Margarita Estate's foundation.
Twenty-five years later, the view out the Roush's Christmas tree-adorned living room is glowing, full to the brim with children and adults viewing a street full of Snoopy houses, Nativity scenes and a countdown to Christmas digital clock.
"Honestly, we just started decorating," Debbie Roush recalled. "This whole Christmas thing kind of accidentally evolved."
"Christmas Street," in fact, is a slight misnomer.
From dyeing Easter eggs to trick-or-treating to summer block parties, Roush said, the early years on Toyon Way were about togetherness and the celebration of all holidays and events. She remembers children, including her two sons, coming and going as they liked.
"It's like 'Leave it to Beaver' land," she said with a laugh.
As far as Christmas goes, the makings of the popular draw were in their infancy.
"We just started putting up lights a little bit at time," Roush said, adding that her family merely added decorations as they could afford them.
But one could say things were ratcheted up in 2001, when a few new residents wanted to add on to something that had slowly become special.
David Pinckley's family, who lives across the street from the Roushes, moved in that year.
Putting the finishing touches on some icicle lights on a chilly evening last week, Pinckley said he makes an uncalculated effort to add something to his display ever year.
"If you didn't decorate, they would Grinch your house," he said, describing a small doll that sits on a tree or the doorstep of not-so-festive homes.
Neither Pinckley nor Roush would speculate as to whom was behind the antics, but they were quick to identify neighbor Jason Meinking as a "legend" and "Mr. Christmas," respectively.
Santas riding a Ferris wheel, rows of lights lining the grass and bright, colorful arches, among other things, make it hard to spot Meinking working on the setup.
Struggling to put a number on his collection, although confident in a $800 December electric bill, Meinking said he simply measures the amount of decorations by attic space.
"When the attic's full, I won't buy more," he said, pointing out to people who might not understand that it is all simply about the kids.
On most nights, a majority of residents and visitors alike gather at two hot spots, one being the Meinking's and the other being a combination of the Candy Cane forest, a sea of swirly twirly gumdrops and new this year, the Lincoln Tunnel.
The lifelike scenes from the popular Will Ferrell move "Elf" are the artful creations of Terran Harris, a designer and brother-in-law of resident Ryan Howard.
An on-again, off-again Toyon resident for years, it's been "Christmas Street" for as long as he can remember.
"Whenever somebody moves here, that's the first thing they're told," Howard said.
But, true to its roots, Howard and Roush said, the neighborly spirit first seen 25 years ago on Toyon still transcends the Christmas season.