- Associated Press - Saturday, December 19, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - From Thanksgiving through New Year’s, Northview Lane is known by a different name: Candy Cane Lane. Ever since Jason Jahnke was young, he and his parents, Larry and Karen, have been part of this street-long Christmas light tradition.

“It really started with Dr. Hamar down the street and our neighbors and us,” Jahnke said. “He would go around asking people if they needed help with lights and all… each person just started doing it. It was like a disease, a good one. I mean, you don’t have to do it, but why wouldn’t you?”

The Jahnke’s house, 1576 Northview Lane, has the traditional red-and-green wrapped trees, like the rest of the street, along with wreaths and an inflatable Nativity scene.

“Our decorations have changed over the 20, 25 years we’ve being doing it,” Jahnke said. “We’ve had inflatable bears before; it just depends on what we want to do.”

This year, he explains that his family did not decorate as much as they have in the past, on account of his father’s earlier stroke.

“Since he had the stroke and can’t raise his hands very high anymore, I’ve had to help more,” Jahnke said. “But I like just getting to hang out with my parents and family when I decorate, and I think that’s important.”

The Bismarck Tribune (https://bit.ly/1IWy7Ta ) reports that the lights on Candy Cane Lane are typically put up a week or two before Thanksgiving, as families start driving around for lights at the beginning of December.

“It almost brings the whole neighborhood together, like that time in July when everyone’s lawn-mowing,” Jahnke said. “Here, everyone’s decorating about the same time. People say, ‘you need some help, oh, I’ll help you.”

Decorating can, at times, be dangerous, but ladders are rarely required.

“You get to stand in the middle of the street, using a long stick for the lights, to get them up into the tree,” Jahnke said. “It’s like four tent poles wrapped together with a hook.”

Different circuits are used to connect the lights so they do not trip the breaker during the season. Like their neighbors, the Jahnkes take down most decorations around New Year’s Day. Some of the rope lights in the trees, though, linger until the summer.

“You cannot get them out (of the trees) without ruining at least a strand,” Jahnke said. “So you get new ones almost every year. We have so many bundles of lights from previous years.”

However, the viewing of the lights can sometimes be challenging, as Northview Lane is a long, steep hill.

“I’ve seen so many people get stuck,” Jahnke said. “People use my driveway as a turnaround point if they can’t go farther … you watch people almost crash going down because they turn around after they go up, to see the other side.”

Jahnke sees almost constant traffic throughout the month of December, including limos from the Nightlife Limousine Christmas Light Tour. He has noticed how many people have decorated this year, but he would like to see a city-wide lights display.

“It’s just a part of Christmas, to decorate,” Jahnke said. “Look out at all the joy it brings people. Why wouldn’t you want to? I mean, you don’t want to be a Scrooge.”

Jahnke and his family plan to decorate as long as they live on Candy Cane Lane, with something different every year.

“If we move, hopefully, whoever comes will carry the torch,” Jahnke said.


Information from: Bismarck Tribune, https://www.bismarcktribune.com

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