Now in its 70th year, the Upper Hastings Ranch community of Pasadena is continuing its annual tradition of adorning the neighborhood with elaborate Christmas decorations.
This year, several blocks in the neighborhood are coming up with new parkway displays that everyone can see starting Saturday, Dec. 10, when UHRA holds its first night of the 70th anniversary of the Holiday Light Up.
Starting Dec. 10 through Dec. 31, visitors and Pasadena residents alike can drive around this neighborhood from 6-10 p.m. to enjoy the parkway displays with multiple themes.
“Each block that has a parkway display has its own theme. We don’t have an annual theme or a theme for the entire neighborhood, but this year we’ve told the neighbors that it’s our 70th so there are some signs celebrating our anniversary,” Tiffany Gardner, Upper Hastings Ranch Association (UHRA) Board Member and historian, said.
“Homeowners can decorate their house in whatever way they’d like. The houses on Startouch have stars as their parkway display. One home turned theirs into a Star of David with blue lights. It’s super cute.”
Gardner said a UHRA homeowner who just moved in a couple years ago, aware that the previous owner had a reindeer display, kept that idea and built a whole new display, with the reindeer watching the movie “Elf.”
The previous homeowners had displayed the film “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” for several years.
A series of judging passes selects the best displays, with a voting for the UHRA Residents’ Choice Award, follows throughout next week and concludes with a Snoopy Parade accompanied with a delivery of the awards on Dec. 16.
The Holiday Light Up, however, lasts up to New Year’s Eve.
Individual blocks and homes can win such awards as Best Use of Lights, Humor and Fantasy, Best Religious Display, Best Parkway and Most Creative.
The neighborhood makes sure there are other things that guests driving by or visiting friends in Upper Hastings will enjoy during this season.
“There will be carolers and bands, and the Christmas Village is always a fun stop,” Gardner continued. “Don Benito (Elementary School) will be selling hot chocolate as a fundraiser again this year. Many families give away candy canes to cars as they drive by.”
One of the homes at Upper Hastings Ranch will be featured on ABC’s “The Great Christmas Light Fight,” airing on Monday, Dec. 5. They’re Andy and Tatiana Harbeck with their two sons, who add something new to their Holiday Light Up display every year.
“The Harbeck family is wonderful. Andy designed and built everything in his yard by hand, and every year he adds something new. His wife Tatiana helps him put together each piece, and one of their sons helps with some of the programming,” Gardner said. “They’re just the kindest people, and many houses on their street started lighting up after they did. We have our fingers crossed that they win, but even if they don’t, we feel like winners for having them here.”
The neighborhood’s Holiday Light Up began in 1951 when a few Upper Hastings Ranch families decorated their driveways with luminaria – paper bags with candles – to guide Santa Claus. The next year, the families on Coronet Ave. made a parkway display – a giant candlestick with a real burning flame. It created a lot of smoke, and the Pasadena Fire Department didn’t think it was a great idea So the following year, they built a painted wooden display with electric lights.
“It was our first parkway display, and in the years following, a friendly competition developed between the other blocks,” Gardner said. “Each block creates its own theme and all the homes have either the exact same display or a fun variation of the same theme. Pine Bluff, for example, has a peace display in multiple languages.”
The UHRA Holiday Light Up is open to everyone starting Saturday, Dec. 10. The neighborhood simply asks visitors to drive with their lights on and to watch for pedestrians and road signs.
“Drivers are also looking at lights and sometimes they forget to follow traffic rules,” Gardner said. “We want everyone to be safe. We have a lot of parking in the neighborhood, and it’s free. It’s okay to park and walk so guests can see more lights and take pictures safely.”
“Every year we get messages on Facebook and Instagram from former neighbors who miss being here and love sharing memories and from people who have been driving up since they were kids and now bring their children and grandchildren. We love that we are part of their family tradition. We bring smiles to thousands of people.”
UHRA will keep posting on social media so people can follow updates on their Holiday Light Up. To follow updates, visit www.facebook.com/UHRAPasadena.
For more information, visit www.upperhastingsranch.org.