Fresno County Planning Commissioner Sarah Woolf made a comment during a Nov. 30 public hearing that merits discussion. She said Old Fig Garden, a historic area of 2,000 homes in the heart of Fresno, is traveling a path to commercialism by hosting the annual Christmas Tree Lane light display.
In fact, the non-profit project, in its 84th year, has no commercial affiliation. It is run by neighborhood volunteers. Donations pay for the millions of lights that are purchased for, hung on and removed from public property along Van Ness Boulevard, plus the labor and equipment used during the months of installation. There is no corporate partner or commercial activity.
The tradition depends on private donations. Homeowners invest thousands of dollars on lights and displays. Radio stations run public service announcements and more than 100,000 visitors come to see it.
Christmas Tree Lane is a celebration that welcomes the public and generates media coverage -- like a parade -- but it is not a commercial venture. To categorize Christmas Tree Lane as a commercial event threatens its very existence.
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Louise A. Yenovkian
Christmas Tree Lane