Palo Alto's 'Christmas Tree Lane' lights up

Decorations, carolers abound on Fulton Street off Embarcadero Road

Starting Saturday (Dec. 10), Fulton Street in Palo Alto will again transform into a Christmas wonderland, filled with red and green lights, decorations and carolers. The 1700 and 1800 blocks of Fulton will turn on the lights of "Christmas Tree Lane" for the 71st year.

To celebrate the beginning of this longstanding tradition, music teacher Marisa Hodgett-Chiang will lead Keys School carolers down the street at 6 p.m.

Since 1940, Fulton residents have helped make Palo Alto an "unmatched Christmas destination," resident Andrea Ward said in an email to Palo Alto Online.

"Many of the street's residents have grown up in Palo Alto and look forward to continuing the tradition for their children and generations to come," Ward wrote.

Ward said the tradition is also a great way to welcome new families into the neighborhood.

"We have a few new families who will be participating this year. It is such a great tradition for families with small children and a wonderful way to bring neighbors together."

Christmas Tree Lane has experienced its fair share of history. According to the Christmas Tree Lane website,, the street dimmed its lights in 1942 for World War II blackouts and again in 1973 in response to the oil crisis.

The lights will shine this year daily from 5 to 11 p.m. through Dec. 31.

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Like this comment
Posted by Russ
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 8, 2011 at 2:54 pm

And let's not forget about the Palo Alto Downtown Light The Night event happening at Lytton Plaza tomorrow night.

There will be singing by locals including the Keyes School, The Addison Noon Chorus and Catabile. There will also be a special recognition for the Champion Paly Volleyballers and a dedication of the revitalized Lytton Plaza...not to mention a spectacular tree lighting.

There will be roaming singers and holiday goodies offered by merchants who are staying open later tomorrow night.

Should be fun!!

2 people like this
Posted by Harvey
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 9, 2011 at 10:56 am

Christmas Tree Lane = yawn.

1 person likes this
Posted by gethin
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 9, 2011 at 12:03 pm

Christmas Tree Lane is a wonderful Palo Alto tradition. From my annual trip there and just driving by its clearly well loved based on the number of people and cars going through the street to see the lights.
Its very nice of the people living there to put this on for everyone to enjoy - thanks

2 people like this
Posted by PA Native
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 9, 2011 at 12:57 pm

Unfortunately, Christmas Tree Lane has gone downhill. The most interesting thing now is the lit trees next to the street. In the past, more houses engaged in the tradition but now it's only about one-third. I heard that in the past, one had to agree to participating when they purchased the house. How difficult is it to just buy one of those inflatables and plug it in? Every house should participate if they live on Fulton.

Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 9, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

The nice thing about it was that it was voluntary.

4 people like this
Posted by Fulton St resident
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Dec 9, 2011 at 4:49 pm

To PA Native: Every house DOES particpate. Take a closer look this year. We go to a lot more trouble than just "plugging in one of those inflatables".

1 person likes this
Posted by Thankful
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 10, 2011 at 12:01 am

I'm very happy the neighbors do this for everyone to enjoy. It's a big effort and probably a nuisance with all the traffic. But we really enjoy the fun of all the decorations. Thanks!

2 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 10, 2011 at 8:56 am

When our kids were young we used to take them there each year. The street was definitely the best decorated street in town, but the real reason it was special was the atmosphere. Where else can you find traditional carol singers singing under street lights, get some hot cocoa and play among the displays?

Nowadays it may not have the best decorated homes, but it is still the place to go for a traditional atmosphere. If carol singers tried to sing on any other street, someone would call the cops to complain about the noise, or the fact that it was promoting religion, or other pc nonsense. If someone let their kids touch a display or even walk on their grass, they would complain about trespass. And someone selling or distributing hot cocoa, well that would probably be wrong in someone's eyes too.

So thank you to the residents of Fulton Street for a wonderful experience of a traditional Christmas. To everyone who doesn't like it, Bah Humbug.

Like this comment
Posted by CowperKid
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 10, 2011 at 12:05 pm

I'm, I've never seen carolers there and have gone my whole life. I've also seen plenty of people frolicking amongst decorations in other locations, without a problem. Yeah, it's a special place, but so are many other local places that do it up for the holidays.

Like this comment
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 11, 2011 at 4:21 pm

I haven't been out there yet this yr, but wish to say "thanks" to the Fulton St. residents for the Christmas Tree Lane. You are much nicer than some of the grinch-like people around here in Palo Alto - particularly the frantic drivers - have you all noticed how traffic has gotten more frantic and rude recently? - Try to chill a bit and think of others, as the Fulton St. residents do.

1 person likes this
Posted by denny
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 12, 2011 at 9:32 am

It is a great place to get into the Christmas spirit! Happy Holidays to all! (Thankyou Fulton Street residents for carrying on this precious tradition, it's so heart warming!)

Like this comment
Posted by -Ladrea
a resident of Portola Valley
on Dec 14, 2014 at 4:49 pm

@Fulton St. You are so right about the inflatables--boring, giant figures with noisy compressors. They take little imagination and effort since a company comes out and erects them. By comparison, Christmas Tree Lane is creative and much more Christmassy. Nice job , folks. Thanks for the effort.

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