September 28, 2023

Christmas decorating is a holiday tradition, but the people who live on Chapman Place make it clear that this tradition is about more than just Christmas lights and decorations.

Each year, the residents of this Riverside street continue their 64-year-long tradition of decorating their street together in an central theme, which for the past 11 years has been “Christmas cards.”

Residents of the street take the holiday season very seriously. Those who purchase a house on Chapman Place are practically required to decorate their homes every holiday season.

“We are a community inside a community,” said Chuck Wilson, a resident of Chapman Place since 1989.

Every year, someone on the block takes the responsibility of bringing the neighborhood together to establish a theme. Because making and retouching the elaborate Christmas decorations, the Chapman Place residents start their decorating three weeks before Thanksgiving. Each house is required to have its decorations displayed by Dec. 1.

“It’s a labor of love,” said resident Steve Wallace.

Jim Lorbeer, one of the residents who grew up on the street as a child, reflected back on when the tradition started in the 1950s.

“Christmas carols played loud in speakers,” Lorbeer said. “Cars jam-packed down the street, and I remember the candle sticks that surrounded the front of each house down the block.”

Resident Barbara Wallace said the candlesticks were so bright, pilots in the 1950s would see them and think they were a landing strip. Wallace has seen the Chapman lights almost every year she has been in Riverside.

Not only do the residents get together to decorate, they top off the Christmas season with a block party and even hire a Santa to take pictures with the children.

“Decorating for all to see is our way of giving back to the community,” resident Marion Mitchell-Wilson said. “It’s a big deal to us.”

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