In the absence of other popular Christmas light displays, the neighborhood has become a hotspot
VANCOUVER — People looking for festive displays of Christmas lights were disappointed earlier this year when Portland’s beloved Peacock Lane was closed to the public amidst the pandemic.
Near downtown Vancouver, the neighbors who make up the popular Holidays on Franklin Christmas display decided to go in the other direction.
“With so many families staying home and stuck indoors, we thought we should give them something special,” says Jim Mains, whose home is the centerpiece of the display. “And that’s why the whole neighborhood here got together.”
Mains says the original goal was 50,000 lights, but they’ve already reached 60,000 and hope to keep adding more.
“Traditionally we’ve had about 30,000 lights,” says Mains, “so this year we’ve doubled that.”
Displays include a 60-foot tall tree with a giant star on top overlooking a traditional nativity scene. Another home features a Winnie the Pooh theme. At Mains’ home, Santa waves from an upstairs window after dark, looking out over eight reindeer, including Rudolph with his bright red nose.
“We have had hundreds and hundreds of cars and walkers each night,” said Maureen Sherman, whose husband climbed that 60-foot tree to put the star on top. “It’s such a blessing to see so many families come out and do something in celebration of the season.”
One popular event that did have to change, thanks to the pandemic, was the snowfall over Franklin.
“Last year we had hundreds of people gathering to see the snowfall,” says Mains.
That event, which usually happens on Christmas Eve and Christmas day, will be replaced by a smaller event Tuesday and Wednesday evening this week, when Santa makes an appearance from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m.
“There may be a hint of snow when he comes out,” teases Mains.
And not to worry, he adds, “we’re already making plans that will be bigger and better than (what) we’ve done before.”
You’ll just have to wait until next year.
Another change with the pandemic that is more positive is that Holidays on Franklin’s Christmas display will actually stay up through Jan. 6 this year.
“We just thought, you know, to keep this Winter a little bit more on the bright side, we decided to extend it for an extra week,” Mains says.
That means you’ll get a full 12 days of Christmas to enjoy the display.
It also means more chances to help out people in the community in need of something to eat.
Holidays on Franklin, which also features a massive Halloween display, has become a major donation event for the local food bank.
“A few years ago in memory of Scott Campbell, who worked with Waste Connections, we started the Christmas promise food drive,” Mains says. “And this year, it’s been unbelievable.”
Already, people stopping by the exhibit have donated well over 3,500 pounds of food, which Mains says exceeded all of their past goals in just the first seven days.
“We are so thankful for the Holidays on Franklin Street event to be collecting food for FISH of Vancouver,” stated James Fitzgerald, executive director for FISH of Vancouver. “These donations are much needed as we are seeing many new families needing our assistance this year due to COVID-19. Our food supply to this point has been steady, but is starting to get strained due to so many coming to our doors.”
The other displays at Holidays on Franklin include an eight foot tall snowman with a Winter landscape, a Grinch with his dog Max filling up an old green pickup with lights and presents, the Frozen princesses and Olaf, dancing Christmas trees, along with the cast of Charlie Brown.
Lights are on display nightly from 5-10 p.m., along with music and the possibility of Santa’s elves handing out candy to a few lucky boys and girls.
You can find updates on the display at the Holidays on Franklin Street Facebook page.