It was a warm and sunny morning in a typical Turlock neighborhood on Friday. But just a few hours later, when the sun went down and the automatic timers clicked on the decorative Christmas lights, the neighborhood became something much more — the city’s official Christmas Tree Lane.
Nearly 40 houses along a quarter-mile loop down Wellerman Way, onto Michael Lane, then in and out of Deanna Court and Teresa Court are decked out all month long and attract visitors from throughout the city and beyond. Festive decor is typically up from the day after Thanksgiving until the New Year.
But make no mistake, living on Christmas Tree Lane isn’t all candy canes and figgy pudding. It’s a lot of hard work, with a fair share of inconveniences.
“It can be a mess,” said Bonnie Womack, who lives on Michael Way. “It’s a lot of work setting it up and then taking it down. But it’s fun.”
Backing out of the driveway for a quick trip to the grocery store can be problematic when there’s a constant stream of traffic snaking its way outside your house, but residents of Christmas Tree Lane learn to cope.
“You do all that stuff before it gets dark,” said Paula Tribuzio, who, along with husband Larry Tribuzio, lives at the popular “Whoville House” on Michael Lane. “You know what you have to do.”
The Tribuzios are celebrating their 12th holiday season on Christmas Tree Lane.
“We went out to look at Christmas lights and we noticed there was a house for sale,” said Larry Tribuzio. “The next thing we knew …” they were homeowners on Christmas Tree Lane.
The Tribuzios — who were married on Oct. 31, 2000, and dressed up like Frankenstein’s monster and his Bride for their wedding, intended to go with a “Nightmare Before Christmas” theme. But the house down the street already put up Jack Skellington decorations, so they decided to go with a Grinch and Whoville theme.
The Tribuzio residence features some of the most intricate decorations on the Lane.
“They’re the winners,” said Womack, pointing to her neighbors across the street.
Not only is the Tribuzios’ yard decked out with Whoville decorations, but inside their home features a 6-foot talking Grinch, nearly two dozen Whoville prints on the walls, and Grinch-themed Christmas trees, knickknacks, rugs, pillows, blankets, dishes … you name it.
Lynn, who didn’t provide her last name, is relatively new to Wellerman Way.
“My husband and I moved here from Washington two years ago,” said Lynn. “He passed away a year ago and I miss him terribly. But my son and his wife and my grandson have taken care of me and did all the decorating. It’s wonderful and I love every minute of it.”
Sure, there’s traffic and pedestrians and a bump in the electric bill, and the occasional minor vandalism, but mostly, it’s a positive experience for the residents.
“It’s a sickness,” Larry Tribuzio joked. “We’re not even through Christmas 2023 and I’m already thinking about 2024.
“But this isn’t just a December thing. All year long this is a great neighborhood.”