Electric Avenue

A South Bay tradition for more than 30 years, the annual Candy Cane Lane light spectacular in Torrance’s Seaside Ranchos area packs in the crowds—much to both the delight and chagrin of local residents.


I believe it started around 1985. Neighbors on Reese Road started draping the tiny white lights in the Chinese elm trees that line the streets in Seaside Ranchos. Looking down the street, the lights created a magical effect that was really festive. The adjoining streets followed suit, and over the years the tree lights spread throughout the Seaside area and the home decorations became more elaborate.

Is it required that all the homes in the area hang lights?

It’s up to the homeowner how much or how little they want to participate. Some people go all out, and others put up very few lights, if any. I’d say most fall somewhere in between.

That time of year, the electric bill must run a pretty penny.

For sure. My bill more than doubles—going from an average of $110 a month to $260 in December. People ask me all the time if the city pays our electric bills in December, which I find pretty amusing. I bought new LED lights for my house, so I’m hoping that will help.

Is there an official start to the celebration?

Not really, but typically Thanksgiving weekend is when everyone starts to put up their displays. I would suggest waiting until December 5 or later to get the full effect.

Having lived there for so many years, I’m sure you’ve witnessed something super memorable.

One year I was shocked to see a barely clothed, sexy Santa’s helper and her photographer taking photos on my front porch for her “portfolio.” My neighbor has a life-sized Mr. and Mrs. Claus she puts out on her porch bench. I had to laugh one morning when I looked across the street to see them posed in a … let’s just say “very friendly” position. Another time I was out walking around and saw a family go up to the Nativity scene in my neighbor’s yard, take baby Jesus out of the crèche, throw him on the grass, put their baby in the crèche and gather around for photos. We also get quite a few car, bicycle and motorcycle/Vespa clubs that ride through decked out in lights, which is fun to see.

I know the event has also sparked its fair share of controversy, right?

Over the years we’ve had the occasional theft of yard displays and vandalism to lights and decor. The past five years or so, the amount of traffic—both car and pedestrian—has been insane. Cars are parked solidly on both sides of the street, and the sidewalks are overflowing with walkers. After a heavy weekend there’s a lot of trash left on the streets—mainly cups, fast food wrappers and dirty diapers. Residents have expressed concerns with the ability of emergency equipment to access the area in a timely manner. Illegal street vendors have become quite a problem, contributing to the trash and congestion. Most people are respectful of the neighborhood and genuinely appreciative, but as with any event that draws a big crowd, there are always a few bad apples. I’ve learned to take the good with the bad.

Is the homeowner’s association doing anything to address residents’ concerns?

Yes. A committee was formed and met three times to review the concerns brought forth by the residents. Meetings were held with the city, and they agreed to move the electronic signage to a better location and direct visitors out of the neighborhood, and provide additional trash cans to residents upon request. The TPD will crack down on illegal vendors selling in the area, keep the area clear for emergency vehicles and maintain a presence via a bike patrol. Residents are asked to turn off their lights at 10 p.m. and comply with suggested guidelines regarding the selling of food and merchandise.

Any advice to a newbie hoping to check out the action?

Avoid the weekends and come during the week before 7 p.m.

Has anyone bought a home in the area JUST because of the event?

Definitely! New homeowners are all about decorating and participating in the festivities.

As a resident yourself, what do you most look forward to about Candy Cane Lane each year?

Besides New Year’s Day? LOL. Joking aside, I love how the neighborhood comes together and creates a very beautiful and memorable experience. I especially love taking my grandchildren for walks and seeing the excitement and joy on their little faces.