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Christmas spirit shines bright in Tea with Christmas Lanes project

By Wendy Sweeter

The neighbors on James Avenue have decorated with the theme Candy Cane Lane.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas all over town.

Residents were encouraged to decorate their home or business as part of tLink’s Christmas Lanes community project. The lights have been turned on from 6-10 p.m. every night from Dec. 1 through Dec. 23.

“Our committee just started talking about what’s something fun we could do for Christmas. We thought it would be really fun to just decorate and try to get people to go together to see if we could do the lane idea like Sioux Falls does,” said tLink’s Amanda McKnelly. “We’ve seen so many people were decorating for Halloween, so we were like let’s try it.”

To make it even more fun, they had three sponsors step up to provide prizes. O’Riley Custom Detailing is sponsoring a $1,000 first place prize. I-29 RV Marine & Outdoor is sponsoring a $300 second place prize and Ace Hardware is sponsoring $200 for third place.

Judges have been out looking at the 15 different entries around town this week. Judges of all ages are enjoying the experience.

“I have a judge that’s 75 and she had her family go out and drive her around last night and she loved it,” McKnelly said. “I think it’s kind of fun. There are a lot of people who have decorated that are just not on the list so it’s cool to see that too.”

The participation has been great, she said, with more participants than she expected. She thinks this is something they will continue to do year after year.

The organization’s goal is to bring the community together. This project has.

“It gets us to get our neighbors together. It gets us to drive around and see our own wonderful town. It encourages us to come together as a community,” McKnelly said.

That’s what the neighbors have done on James Avenue on the south end of town. Amethyst Muth and the 36 other households on her street have come together to offer Candy Cane Lane.

They have their own Facebook group page where they put out the idea to participate and voted on themes.

After looking at Whoville, candy cane lane and winter wonderland, candy cane lane was chosen in the end.

As a self-described crafty, over-the-top person, Muth thought each house should have a 6-foot tall candy cane to create some continuity on their street for the theme. Thirty-four of the 37 homes on the street committed to buying a candy cane that Muth and neighbors cut out one Sunday. Each family personalized them for their house.

They also made a candy cane and sign at the start of the street. They have about 40 kids’ handprints on the sign.

“I honestly think everybody on this street seems very positive and always willing to participate. I think a lot of that goes for having young children. I think people get into the spirit when they have young children and they want to participate,” Muth said. “I just think honestly we have an amazing neighborhood. We hit the jackpot living here. Nobody even complained. It was pretty cool.”

Growing up in rural northwest Iowa, Muth did not have any Christmas lanes, just her grandparents’ lights and what her parents put up. Then there were some random houses that had lights, but it was never a community thing. She has enjoyed how close her neighborhood is and their willingness to participate.

“I think our community as a whole is phenomenal. Great participation and I think that’s why Tea tried to get this going. I think everybody did a great job,” Muth said.


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