For years, Deb and Terry Toews have drawn Christmas revelers with their brightly lit house and yard near Gettysburg and Locan avenues.
Now their whole street has joined in, and the group of dazzlingly decorated homes has a new name — Santa Claus Lane.
Debuting this year for the first time, this light show is anything but ordinary as it takes lawn ornaments and Christmas bulbs to a new level to bring in the holiday season.
Santa Claus Lane is a computer-animated light show that is run by the nonprofit foundation Clovis Festival of Lights at Ladera Ranch. Deb and Terry Toews are the directors and founders of the organization, which is putting on its first event this year.
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“My husband and I have been doing the animated Christmas lights for the last eight years,” Deb Toews, 56, said. “This last year, we approached our neighbors to join in with us, which, to our surprise, all of them decided that they wanted to do it, so it’s the whole street.”
A total of 16 houses are included in the event. Spectators can drive through the neighborhood to look at houses, or they can walk the streets for a more personal experience.
The Toewses said they drew crowds in the past with their own Christmas decorations, but were looking for a way to improve the experience.
Deb explained that in the past, she and her husband talked to people as they stopped by to look at their lights.
“We started asking them, what would you like better: Would you like it if we add more lights, or would you like it if we added more houses?” she said. “Everybody thought that adding more houses was a great idea. That was the beginning of getting our nonprofit and becoming Santa Claus Lane.”
Terry Toews, 52, said they have been fortunate to have community support for this project.
“I think the part that tugs at my heart the most is that we’re collecting donations for a Clovis food pantry at Faith Community Church of the Nazarene,” he said. “They serve 300 people a month, and a lot of times they run out. We are trying to help support that because it just breaks our heart when people just don’t have enough. We feel like we’re so blessed, we’re just trying to give back.”
Upon visiting the neighborhood, Terry and other neighbors will be present with donation jars for the food pantry. While donations aren’t mandatory, Deb said that anything is appreciated.
“This is a free event for the community. Anybody can come out here,” she said.
What You Need To Know Visit Clovis Festival of Lights presents Santa Claus Lane on the web at www.clovisfestivaloflights.org or on Facebook at Santa Clause Lane or Clovis Festival of Lights. The light show is held in the 3100 block of Indianapolis Avenue near Locan and Gettysburg avenues from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 5:30 to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday through Dec. 31. Friday and Saturday are designated walking nights; vehicle traffic is not allowed. Tune into 98.5 FM to watch the lights dance to 16 Christmas songs. Cash donations are accepted, benefitting Faith Community Church of the Nazarene’s food pantry.
The show in the 3100 block of Indianapolis Avenue will run every evening through New Year’s Eve. The light show begins at 5:30 p.m. and ends at 10 p.m. on Sunday through Thursday. The show runs from 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, which will be reserved as walking nights only.
“We actually block off the street so people can come if they want and bring their lounge chairs or backyard chairs or whatever,” Deb said. “They can sit in the middle of the street and watch the show from wherever they want to watch it.”
She also said that concessions such as pizza, hot dogs, hot chocolate, coffee and cookies will be available on Friday and Saturday nights as well. Any money made from these sales will be put back into the organization for future operating expenses.
Deb explained that the entire light show is computer programmed. She programs the lights, and her husband, along with the neighbors, decorate the houses with lights. Spectators tune into 98.5 FM and watch the lights dance to a variety of Christmas music.
“There are little mini Christmas trees and arches and different elements that we have. Our yard alone has 50,000 lights,” she explained.
Terry Toews spent about 35 hours hanging their lights.
“He started actually putting lights up on the house about a month ago,” Deb said. “We both have full-time jobs, so we’ve got to work around our schedules. The neighbors come out and help out as well.”
Combined with the rest of the lights in the neighborhood and the lights being added, Santa Claus Lane includes more than 100,000 programmed lights.
Deb explained that the software she uses to program the show is from the company Light-O-Rama.
“The programming is like a humongous spreadsheet,” she said. “For every light string that I have, I have the ability to turn it on, off, fade it up, fade it down, make it twinkle, or make it shimmer, and I can have varying degrees that I can program as well.”
She said that she listens to every song — there are 16 in the entire show — on repeat in order to track each beat and movement she wants programmed into the display.
“For every minute of a song, it roughly takes you a good three hours to program it,” Deb said. “It’s being creative, which I like to be creative. It’s kind of an outlet for me.”
The Toewses’ house features a new tree this year.
“It has 1,800 lights on it that I can individually control, so I have the ability to make those lights whatever color in the world that I want. We can do graphics, text, different kinds of patterns. It’s really a cool little tree.”
This tree displays several different images during the light show, including Dr. Seuss’s Grinch.
Erica Brandon, 15, is one of the Toewses’ neighbors who is helping with Santa Claus Lane.
“I have been out here every night helping set up the decorations, I have been helping with concessions, passing out candy canes and programs, and I’ve been making sure that I’m a big help just because I love the community and I love to help them,” she said.
Volunteering has allowed her to meet her neighbors and have a hand in setting up the lights.
“It’s been a phenomenal experience,” Brandon said. “My favorite part has been seeing the kids’ smiles on their faces. That’s just the best part.”
Santa Claus Lane debuted on Nov. 27 to a crowd of thousands of attendees.
“We figured we had probably close to 5,000 people,” Terry said. “We’re thankful for everybody coming out.”