Although we don’t get to see any snow here in Southern California, we do get to see an amazing display of Christmas lights in Torrance, a city about thirty minutes southwest of UCLA. Each day in December, hundreds of people from all over the South Bay flock to a neighborhood called Seaside Ranchos in Torrance where the warmth of the holiday spirit glows all night long. My friends and I had the opportunity to see this wonderful display of decorations on foot (though you can stay in your car if you don’t mind the traffic). From Jack Skellington to Shrek to The Simpsons, a whole bunch of characters appear on people’s lawns. Many houses go all out with lighting and candy canes and gingerbread men. Along with the characters and decorations, every house puts up white Christmas lights on the Chinese Elm Trees that line the streets. Such a transformation  brings this quiet neighborhood to life with little kids screaming, “Happy Holidays!” everywhere you go.

Though their electricity bills are nearly $200 more for the month of December, decorating takes about 20 hours, and traffic is terrible, most residents of Seaside Ranchos claim it’s all worth it for the many holiday cheers and the thanks they receive from visitors for creating a memorable winter. And who wouldn’t want to be a part of such a fun, artistic tradition that brings the neighborhood closer and transforms the streets into a winter wonderland!

My friends and I definitely felt the spirit of the holidays and enjoyed exploring something one doesn’t see everyday. And what more? We found Santa Claus… on a bike!