Being one of the “original families” still involved in the Saugus neighborhood tradition, the Lucatero-Haggart household has set up for the Wakefield Lane Winter Wonderland since 1993.
“We had only six handmade (icicle strands) that first year,” said Cindee Haggart. “It was cold as heck that day, but one of our neighbors had an outdoor heater. So, we ordered some pizzas, brought over some champagne and all got together.”
And while sitting on their neighbors’ driveway nearly three decades ago, one person spotted something unusual coming down the street.
“This car came by, and it was just slowly driving.. And I go, ‘You’re kidding me!’” said Haggart. “No one used to come down our street cause we were the last (streets) on Copperhill at that time.”
Haggart went on to say that the movie “Field of Dreams” had been recently released, and those gathered around the communal driveway heater joked, “If we build it, they will come.”
Taking the joke to heart, the residents of Wakefield Lane decided to work together in December 1994, and see what they could possibly create in terms of Christmas decorations and lights on their street.
“It just kind of turned into a block party,” said Haggart. “More and more people started to come, and we all got to know each other better, and it became a good time.”
Over the last quarter-century, what began between a few families has developed into the Wakefield ‘Winter Wonderland,’ a fictional North Pole suburb open to all Santa Clarita residents.
What started as a single car in one year grew to thousands for a single night. Two pizzas between a couple families grew into 40 families holding a community potluck. Six homemade icicle strands with a couple hundred lights have grown to hundreds with thousands of lights connecting their neighborhood.
And while some of the original members of the driveway group from the 1993 group have moved away, the Wakefield Lane spirit of holiday camaraderie has kept the tradition alive.
Over the years, more and more neighbors have joined, with 41 Wakefield Lane houses and families ornamenting their front lawns with their own individual Christmas and holiday themes.
Some houses imitate fairy-tales, while others pay tribute to favorite sports teams. A couple mimic passages from classic yuletide poems, such as “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.” Strands of “icicles” hang between the houses, streetlights are dressed as giant candy canes and a sign hangs over the street’s entrance welcoming sightseers to the “Wakefield Winter Wonderland.”
But as anyone will tell you, the Lucatero-Haggart household has always been the “Penguin House.”
Haggart was spotted Saturday morning standing on her roof setting up what has become her house’s “trademark” flock of two dozen plastic penguins, igloos and 6-foot-tall Santa hat.
“We used to have fake snow, but the wind annihilated it… so we got rid of that this year, and we’re just saying, ‘It’s because of global warming.’”
Over the years, her flock has grown or shrunk, whether due to wind blowing them away or from more direct, manmade causes.
“We had one get stolen, but returned because a lady I work with, who loves what we do, calls me up one day and goes, ‘Hey Cindee, I think I saw one of your penguins,’” Haggart said, adding that she “got that one back.”
The 30 Days Of Christmas
Standing on the ground giving advice to Haggart on the roof, is her husband, Chris Lucatero. An engineer on the days he’s not helping set up Winter Wonderland, Lucatero knows all the numbers.
“The icicle light strands between the houses in themselves are 50,000 lights,” he added. “And if you include every houses’ own decoration lights, it’s about 25 million individual light bulbs each year.”
“When the street is completely full, we can fit about 214 cars end-to-end,” said Lucatero. “It takes about 20 minutes to drive through. So on one night, we get about 7,000 to 8,000 visitors — over 30 some odd nights.”
And in terms of the electric bill, most people on the street decided years ago that it would be better to save their money for that year’s newest additions to the already established plethora of decorations.
“Most of us went solar years ago or use LEDs,” said Haggart. “Our bill is around $250 a year, with the biggest part of that coming in December.”
O’ Come All Ye Faithful
“People move here because they wanted to be here,” said Haggart. “There’s a guy that moved in at the end of the street who told us that he ‘always decorated to the nines’ wherever he was. He moved here to be a part of this.”
It’s the desire to be there and be a part of Winter Wonderland has made the work that much easier over the years, according to the couple.
“You do a couple hours here, a couple hours there,” said Haggart. “In total, you generally work for like a day. But It’s always been a group effort and it’s something we like to do.”
However, while Wakefield has opened its arms to new residents and return visitors year after year, they do ask, year after year, the same two requests of their guests.
“Please, throw out your trash, especially the Starbucks coffee cups,” said Lucatero. “And please, make the right turn when you’re leaving Winter Wonderland.”
But necessary changes and traditional troubles aside, Haggart and Lucatero say that the tradition will continue on for years to come, with their motivation to do so being found where it all began 27 years ago.
“We had no foresight that it would turn into what it has,” said Haggart. “But we have fun every year because and we get to come together at someone’s house and have our own little party.”
The Wakefield Lane ‘Winter Wonderland’ 2018 Christmas lights will be on nightly from 5:30 PM to 10:30 PM, beginning Sunday November 25th and end Friday December 30th.