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After more than a decade, Christmas Card Lane returns to Tigard's Avon Street

TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Carolyn Horne, a longtime resident on Southwest Avon Street in Tigard, helped to bring back Christmas Card Lane, a neighborhood Christmas light display that was popular in the 1980s and 1990s.For 11 months of the year, Carolyn Horne’s quiet Tigard neighborhood road is known as Southwest Avon Street.

But this time of year, the street undergoes a transformation, becoming something entirely different.

Welcome to Christmas Card Lane.

“It’s it nice?” Horne asked, looking at the quiet street off Southwest Hall Boulevard. Down the road, a neighbor stands on a step ladder hanging Christmas lights.

Horne’s home, adorned with red and white lights and a family of wooden penguins out front, is one of several homes along the street that is decorated for the holidays.

For years, it was all but a mandate for Avon Street families to get decked out for Christmas, said Horne, who moved into the neighborhood in 1986.

“When we moved in, everyone came over to say hi and introduce themselves, and said, ‘Oh, by the way, you’re required to have three sets of lights on the house,’” Horne said. “And three more the year after that.”

But after years of putting on the show, the tradition slowly fizzled out more than a decade ago, Horne said.

“People moved and divorced and after a while you don’t feel that same community feel,” Horne said. “It was a big transition, and then we got lazy and let it go.”

This year, though, the families have revived Christmas Card Lane, after the city of Tigard announced that it would be hosting a community walk through local neighborhoods that decorate for the holidays.

‘All about community’

TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - The Rosemeyers home is all decorated with Christmas lights and is a featured house along Christmas Card Lane.The tradition began in the 1980s, when a local sign maker who lived along the road made large wooden Christmas card signs for families to hang on their homes, giving the neighborhood the nickname of “Christmas Card Lane.”

“You’d look at the neighborhood and realize the value of the work that went into it all, and you treasure it,” Horne said. “Every year, we couldn’t wait to see the signs and the lights and get together.”

Rick Love, a longtime resident of Avon Street, would dress up as Santa Claus each year, handing out candy canes to families who stopped by the road to look at the lights.

“We’d finish our own homes on the day after Thanksgiving, and then do the homes of people that needed help,” Love told The Times last week.

Horne said that families often tried to out-decorate each other.

“Everyone wants you to do it,” she said. “And then, when you see your neighbor doing it, too, you feel compelled to do it.”

The event was popular with Tigard residents for many years, he said.

“Traffic was nuts some nights when I was out in my Santa suit,” he said.

Horne said she has been hoping to bring back the tradition, but it took the city’s community walk to jumpstart the neighborhood into action.

“For a long time I thought, ‘It’s too much work. You can’t restart this,’” she said. “But then the call came and there was no turning back.”

‘It’s a revival’

Of the 22 homes on Avon Street, only a handful of families still live on the block from the old Christmas Card Lane days, Horne said.

Horne said the neighborhood banded together to bring the tradition back.

“We had new signs being built in the family room and in the garage we had a painting day,” she said.

It’s important to keep the tradition alive, Horne said, because it helps remind people about the spirit of the holiday season.

“It’s a revival,” she said. “It’s all about community. ... It’s pretty rare to have a community like this.”

The lights are more subdued this year than in previous years, Horne said, but she said she hopes that families get more and more involved as the tradition continues.

“We aren’t anything like Peacock Lane,” Horne said. “At least, not yet. But it’s a good start.”

TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Neighbors and visitors walk along Christmas Card Lane  to see the Christmas lights in Tigard on Friday. The city organized a community walk through neighborhoods with Christmas decorations.

By Geoff Pursinger
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