The cul-de-sac on North Azure Circle is like any other in its west Wichita subdivision.
But for the six weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, the street transforms into a holiday hot spot for Christmas lights known as Candy Cane Lane.
What started off as a cul-de-sac displaying large handmade candy cane decorations has evolved into 18 houses with roofs and driveways lined with lights and lawns covered in glowing snowmen, reindeer and Santas.
Brenda and Doug Brown, whose house is topped with a red “Happy Birthday Jesus” sign and light-up airplane landing strip, are some of the original neighbors that started Candy Cane Lane.
“We’ve lived here since 2001 and we’ve been doing it pretty much since then,” Brenda Brown said.
She said over the years it began to include more neighbors and more lights. Though people have moved out, Brown said new neighbors usually get on board.
“The people who leave, traditionally, have left their candy canes,” she said.
As the buzz about the cul-de-sac’s light displays began to spread, car traffic on the street started to skyrocket.
“I know my husband counted it one year and there were a thousand in one night. It was crazy,” Brown said. “It’s not uncommon to have two or three buses, two or three limos and a trolley at the same time on the road. I mean, it’s that busy.”
Brown said her husband takes two weeks off work to get the lights up on time.
“We start the day after Halloween and the pressure is on to get it done,” she said.
The power it takes to run the lights used to raise the electricity bill around $150, Brown said, but switching to LED lights has lowered costs.
Trips down Candy Cane Lane are always free, but Brown said on the weekends they do collect canned goods and donations for the Wichita Food Bank.
Dean Miller, who has lived in the neighborhood for at least 15 years, said the food drive has been successful.
“We’ve been really amazed by people’s generosity,” he said. “I couldn’t even tell you how many boxes they’ve filled.”
The neighbors usually bond over putting up lights and preparing for opening night, Miller said, but they also have other traditions.
Miller and his wife, Joan, hosted the annual Christmas party this year, which was “Polar Express” themed.
“Everybody dressed up in costumes from Santa Claus to elves,” Miller said. “We were handing out candy canes at the end of the driveway and talking to all of the cars as they came by. We had some limos that parents had rented for their small children and they jumped out of the cars and came up to take group photos. It was fun.”
Brown said the neighbors will also gather around fire pits when it’s not too chilly and watch the cars come through.
After 16 years of Candy Cane Lane, the cul-de-sac’s collection of decorations and lights has expanded to Griswold-esque amounts. Brown said the neighbors even tried to curb their light habit at one point.
“We said, ‘We’re making a pact. No more new things,’” she said. “And that didn’t last. We get excited when people get new stuff.”
Brown said the cul-de-sac looks forward to this time of the year, and has hopes of expanding the light displays in the future.
“We would give anything if we could get the whole neighborhood to line their driveways,” she said. “How cool would that be?”
The displays in Candy Cane Lane come on around dusk and will be on every evening until New Year’s Eve.