Though most long-time residents and regular visitors are familiar with “Candy Cane Lane” - Country Club Lane at Sixth Street - for 11 months out of the year, there’s always something new to see. It’s a fun treat for locals and visitors alike.
Begun in 1962 by “Chief Elf” Helen McKinley, with the assistance of local artist Ouida Reilly who did the initial drawings, the colorful and often magical event has been a Coronado tradition for over 50 years.
Each year, a neighborhood meeting was held, and a new theme was chosen. In 1969, the Bicentennial of San Diego was selected, and a plywood representation of the San Diego Mission was created, with the help of the neighborhood husbands, who cut out the plywood, and the wives and kids, who decorated and painted the cut outs.
During the early years, each front yard sported a decoration which supported the theme, with identical friars adorning every lawn for the 1969 Mission San Diego theme. Though each year had a new theme, the old decorations were often repurposed to fit the new one.
Over the years, the as the children grew up and original founders grew older and a bit less able, the event moved to something a bit less labor intensive, with the manger display serving as the featured presentation, at the very end of the cul-de-sac, though fewer and fewer residents participated.
In 2015, with many local Coronado High School graduates calling that block of Country Club Lane home, a neighborhood meeting was held, which would decide the fate of the Candy Cane Lane tradition. After a unanimous vote, the residents voted in favor of continuing the custom, and Laura Galdorisi O’Sullivan was named “Senior Elf.”
Kevin Reilly and Fred Crawley spearheaded the effort to create new decorations, which were crafted in 2015 and 2016.
O’Sullivan notes that though in years past, there was something of a party atmosphere, with caroling and hot chocolate served, but for safety reasons, this year it is limited to driving, biking, or walking through, with no neighborhood games or socializing. Though she wears the Senior Elf hat, she points out that it really is a neighborhood effort, and gives special credit to neighbors Donna and Fred Crawlely, who were instrumental in keeping the tradition alive.
As you drive through this year, keep an eye out for some of your favorite movie and TV characters, such as the Misfit Toys from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Frozen, and The Grinch.