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SoCal's Candy Cane Lanes face growing pains

A holiday light display on Thoroughbred St, the Candy Cane Lane for Rancho Cucamonga
A holiday light display on Thoroughbred St, the Candy Cane Lane for Rancho Cucamonga
Flickr user mbtrama (Creative Commons)

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You may get into the holiday spirit this weekend by taking the family to a nearby Candy Cane Lane, where neighborhoods coordinate to go all out to decorate their homes with lighting displays, gigantic inflatables and even nativity scenes with live animals.

But not everyone is happy that they've decked their halls.

Residents at several Candy Cane Lanes throughout Southern California say things might be getting out of hand.

"We must have had, I would guess, 40,000 people come through last year," says Matthew Wright in Woodland Hills.

He goes all out with his own lawn display, complete with a train set that people can pose in. But in addition to the high volume of traffic, some visitors are being naughty.

"We had people vandalizing and stealing a reindeer and trash is being tossed on the ground," he says. "People seem to be thinking of this as a public attraction or an amusement park, when it's actually people's front doors."

There are similar problems at El Segundo's Candy Cane Lane.

"Within the last four or five years, the crowds have just exploded," says 13-year resident Teresa Lanphere-Ames, "and we sensed this because of social media."

She suspects when people come to take photos and share online, it drives even more visitors to her street, clogging up roads and sidewalks.

Lanphere-Ames isn't afraid of welcoming people. Safety at night is her biggest concern.

"I'm worried that a small child is going to run out into the street, someone's not going to see them and they're going to get hit," she says.

El Segundo officials have heard that fear, and this weekend and next will be blocking off her streets to through traffic.

Law enforcement in Rancho Cucamonga are taking similar measures, too, for its Candy Cane Lane along Thoroughbred Street.

A boom of visitors to the neighborhood has prompted police to close off the street – which has no sidewalk – to pedestrians from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. every night up to Christmas Eve.

"You have to imagine a situation where people are walking in the street, crossing the street, in a manner they normally wouldn't because they want to go from one side to see the other side, with a high volume of vehicles," says Deputy Jacob Bailey with the Rancho Cucamonga Police Department.

Only visitors in vehicles can pass through to see the lights.

Officials say they'll revisit these measures and their effectiveness after the holidays, but they suggest if you plan to see the lights yourself, remember to be polite so the local residents stay jolly.