Lemon Grove's "Santa Claus Lane" will burn a little less bright next holiday season, as the founding member of the must-see light show dims most of his lights.
Homeowner Wayne Buttron and his wife Kathy have decided that this year will be their last offering up such an elaborate display on the Lane, he tells Lemon Grove Patch.
"Thirty-eight years ago we started off small and worked up to what we have today," he said, fondly reminiscing of how his display has grown over the years.
Now in the 39th year of doing this, Wayne says he estimates that he's accumulated some $10,000 worth of decorations-- but a priceless amount of memories.
After starting out with just lights on his house for the first few years, and then taking on the roles of Mr. and Mrs. Claus in 1981, it was in 1986 that then-mayor Jim Dorman presented the Buttron's with a city proclamation declaring Sheri Lane "Santa Claus Lane."
Through the years, the street has become a must-see location for locals, as nearly all the homes partake in the festivities, serving up hot chocolate and roasting s'mores in driveways, among other things.
Now, though, the 72-year-old Wayne and his wife, 69, say the work behind setting everything up at their home has become too much. This year, he started putting the displays together the week after Halloween.
"A lot of my displays are starting to burn out, and my wife and I are starting to get older," Buttron said. "[The displays] are getting way too much to put up for us."
Some of the things that his home will continue to feature through Christmas this year are:
- A life-sized Santa and Reindeer on the roof
- "Snow" blanketed across the front yard
- Two "g-scale" trains running through the Buttron's living room and back outside
- A rotating Christmas tree
- An "elf-house" with animated elves hard at work baking cookies and doing other chores
- A penguin scene, featuring the animals skating on "ice"
- An animated lights show
Lights Show Runs Nightly This Year
One of the major highlights of the Buttron's display is the animated lights show that runs every half hour once the display is turned on.
After Wayne officially flips the switch Wednesday night at 5:30 p.m., the lights show will continue to run through Dec. 25 every night.
The 3.5 minute long show repeats every half-hour, from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m.
Buttron said he has speakers set up so everyone can enjoy the show.
Santa and Mrs. Claus on The Lane
Wayne says that he and Kathy will also reprise their roles as the Claus family one last year, and invited everyone out to take pictures with them, keeping with tradition.
This year, the couple will pose as the North Pole duo on the nights of Dec. 15 and Dec. 16.
He tells Patch that he estimated he's heard the Christmas wishes of nearly 25,000 children and adults alike since 1981-- including a child as young as three days old, and a 94-year-old woman.
"I’ll never forget her because she pulled up in a limousine and talked to me for a while," Buttron recalled.
"There’s so many great kids and everything," he told Patch. "All the kids are great, and have special requests."
Most of those requests have held to the same trends year after year: Barbie dolls, Lego's, bicycles... and horses and computers.
One of the more outrageous requests that Wayne has seen in his role as Santa?
"One lady wanted a husband." No word if she's still single.