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Candy Cane Lane Residents Consider Ending 60-Year Tradition Over Littering, Street Vendors

One of the many houses decorated on Candy Cane Lane in Woodland Hills (Yelp)
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Southern California has no shortage of Christmas light displays to ring in the season, but one of the oldest locations has its future in doubt.Woodland Hills' Candy Cane Lane has been making spirits bright for over 60 years, but residents who live in the eight-block area around Lubao and Oxnard streets have gotten pretty fed up after this year's event. According to The Daily News, "unruly" crowds, littering and street vendors have dampened the holiday cheer.

"Yesterday was my trash day, and I spent about 45 minutes laying on the ground pulling out dirty diapers, food wrappings, wrapping paper—people were probably exchanging gifts—and a lot of the light sticks from the vendors," Julia Karobkoff, a Candy Cane Lane resident for 40 years, told the Daily News.

As for the un-permitted street vendors, LAPD officers say they're effectively powerless to do anything, as the hawkers come back after the cops leave. A recent push by the city council to legalize street vending only has residents even more worried.

Because participation in Candy Cane Lane is voluntary and the event is informal, it's easy to see where the residents' frustration stems from. "This could be a lovely destination if treated with respect," said West Valley-Warner Center Chamber of Commerce CEO Diana Williams in an email to LAist. "It would be a sad day in the West Valley, if there was no more Candy Cane Lane."

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Even amidst all the problems, it's still tough to kill old traditions. A member of the neighborhood watch, Bess Gattuso, told the Daily News it "will most likely be a slow progression" to end Candy Cane Lane once and for all.

Williams says trash cans in the neighborhood would mitigate the littering, and that the vendors had "mixed reviews" from residents. Williams suggested "there needs to be an organized layout to accommodate the vendors, residents and visitors." However, she said Candy Cane Lane should fight to keep its neighborhood charm. "In order to keep this quaint tradition of holiday spirit, we need to make sure it does not become commercialized with food trucks and the like," said Williams.

According to the West Valey-Warner Center Chamber of Commerce, Candy Cane Land organically began in 1952 as a group of neighbors "who collectively decide each year to put on an amazing holiday display of lights and decorations." Out of a spirit of neighborly competition, the light displays have gotten only more spectacular with each passing year.