By Gilbert Melgoza
In December of 1993, neighbors across from each other on Wakefield Court in Santa Clarita, Calif. put up icicle lights to connect their houses, a tradition they would continue for over 35 years and one that changed the street forever.
The simple act of connecting two houses with a string of brightness spread a message of unity around the neighborhood and eventually transformed the once quiet and normal Wakefield Court into the busy and well-known Wakefield Winter Wonderland.
The now famous neighborhood that attracts thousands of people nightly with over 40 homes sharing their extraordinary Christmas displays throughout the month of December, started with two houses and one string of luminescence.
“The surrounding neighbors loved it, and the next year everyone on the street came out on Thanksgiving weekend and made icicle lights to connect their houses as well,” one neighbor said.
That was the year of the infamous Northridge earthquake, the neighbors got to know each other very well and helped each other go all out on Christmas decorations that year.
“We did it with just the thought of how cool and different it would be,” said Cyndee, who proudly takes credit for helping to start this holiday attraction. “We had no idea what we were about to start.”
Soon after Cyndee connected her house to another with icicle shaped luminosity, not only did neighbors start to notice, but regular people driving past Wakefield Court started to pay attention as well.
“Our street started attracting people almost instantly, they would see all the lights and then tell their friends and family to come see for themselves and before we knew it, we had several groups of people walking around our block almost every night,” said Cyndee.
“The coolest thing is hearing about people who came every year as kids are now grown up and bringing their kids every year,” Cyndee continued. “We love doing this every year and it’s nice to see others enjoy it as well.”
“It’s not mandatory and there are a few houses that don’t really participate, but most of the people who move here or already live here know what they are getting themselves into and want to be apart of it,” said participant Amy Buterbaugh when asked if there are any homes or people that refuse to take part.
Buterbaugh has a very large light spectacle in the shape of a Christmas tree on display in front of her home, which has become a pretty popular and special spot on the street.
“Many people stop to take pictures with the tree and we even witnessed two proposals right in front of it a couple years ago,” Buterbaugh continued. “It was beautiful to see two different people in one year decide they wanted to have that special moment in front of our display. Moments like that are why we continue to do this every year.”
“The purpose of hosting Wakefield Winter Wonderland every year is to draw the attention of certain people who are feeling low and try to put a smile on their face and show them some light in their life,” said neighbor Ray Arroyo, whose house is covered in lights and a giant Raiders display. “I feel special for just being involved in this.”
“This all started because a community came together,” said Paul Aunchman, a member of the street. “In most neighborhoods, people barely know each other. On this block, almost everyone knows each other and helps each other out. We don’t just become a close community during the holidays, this is a year round thing.”
“It is insane to see this every year from the view of a participant,” said another person who lives on the street. “There’s literally thousands of people each night walking around my street and driving around my block, sometimes it takes me 30 minutes just to get onto my street and then I can’t even find parking.”
“And yeah, I might have to deal with traffic just to get to my own home, my block may draw large groups of people every night, I may spend way too much on decorations and my electricity bill may be higher than the roof, but to see all the smiles and joy Wakefield Court produces in the most wonderful time of the year? It is priceless.”