Families brave chill to walk Fresno's Christmas Tree Lane

The Fresno BeeDecember 3, 2013 

Fresno's chilly weather didn't stop local families, first-timers, and annual visitors from making their way Tuesday evening down Christmas Tree Lane.

Thousands of pedestrians flooded Van Ness Boulevard, which was filled with lights, decorations and live Christmas music for the kickoff of the 91st annual Christmas Tree Lane, which continues through Dec. 25. The next walking night will be Dec. 11.

Maria Zarco, 26, of Fresno brought her daughter Bianca, 6, and friends Emily, 8, and Marcos, 11, to marvel at the holiday decorations on their first walking trip down the 2-mile route.

"It's that time of the year when you see everyone together coming to walk and enjoy the beginning of the season," Zarco said.

Her daughter Bianca was most excited to walk down the lane and admire the decorations.

"I want to see the reindeers," she said. "I like counting them."

Other visitors, such as Ella Samuelson, 83, of Fresno, walked the lane for many years. Samuelson has been coming for more than 20 years, even if it's by herself.

"I feel like a kid here," she said. "My grandchildren came home from school today and they said they were tired, so I came by myself."

Christmas Tree Lane isn't just a memorable experience for visitors.

"You see all the kids walking around and it's just fascinating to watch these kids," homeowner Flindt Andersen said.

Andersen has lived in the neighborhood for 27 years and invites friend and family to a bonfire every year for the opening night.

"It's always a joy, we have food and the fire pit and everybody gets together and enjoys the beginning of the Christmas season," he said.

For Lucia Artiaga, 35, and daughter Aleeza, 13, it's more than just a walk they do every year.

"It's memories that we make," Lucia said. "I came here with my dad and now we've come here for years. It's a family tradition."

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6659, daguilera@fresnobee.com or @DianaT_Aguilera on Twitter.

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