Christmas Carol Lane came back, thanks to business-savvy neighbors
A group of Kennewick women lean on their business-savvy skills to keep their neighborhood’s longtime Tri-City tradition alive.
Debie Britton, Sandy Nettleton and Dayna Faultersack are the organized women who take the transformation of their Kennewick subdivision into Christmas Carol Lane very seriously.
Six years ago, the women resurrected the holiday tradition dating back to the 1960s.
In their Concord Heights subdivision in south Kennewick – between 23rd to 26th place off 27th Avenue and Garfield Street – homeowners display plywood-size songboards featuring Christmas carols in their front yard. Each one is unique to the house.
The development is made up of 95 homes, with about 70 participating.
Many decorate their songboards to match the carol’s theme, using lights, inflatables or cutouts.
At Britton’s home, the songboard features “All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth,” and wooden cutouts of the Chipmunks and David Seville.
The home with “The Most Wonderful Time of Year” songboard is decorated with characters from the movie “Elf.” Another home features a “Frozen” theme, and “it’s something to behold,” Britton said.
Those who drive through the neighborhood to check it out shouldn’t expect a razzle-dazzle experience with streaming music via a radio station and Clark Griswold-level light displays.
“We’re not a business. We are a neighborhood having fun,” Faultersack said.
The Christmas Carol Lane ladies encourage visitors to look through their child’s eyes.
“What we’ve found is at night in the dark with spotlights on the songboards, it’s still very much magical,” said Britton, who remembers visiting the lane as a kid.
Faultersack wanted to be a part of this magic when she was driving through the lane 17 years ago and spotted a home for sale.
“We bought the house because we wanted to be in Christmas Carol Lane,” she said.
New families moving into the neighborhood receive a welcome letter explaining what life on the lane looks like around the holidays.
“You have moved into a close neighborhood of people that look after each other. Welcome!! We hope you will embrace the experience. We have a lot of fun,” the letter reads.
When Britton bought her house more than 37 years ago, she said her sales agreement stated it was a requirement to decorate with the songboards.
Today, homeowners aren’t required to participate, and they can trim their yard as little or as much as they’d like.
“There has been a lot of real estate moving, as you know. We’ve had a lot of younger people moving into the area, and they’ve really embraced this revitalization in the last six years. Every year it gets better and better,” Britton said.
Reviving the lane
Without a system in place to educate neighborhood newcomers and assist those needing help to freshen or post their signs, the tradition lost steam over the years.
Nettleton, a retired cashier, organized a community meeting about six years ago and 40 people showed up.
The three women connected and began to mobilize.
They launched a website, public Facebook page and private Facebook group for neighbors.
Faultersack, a substitute teacher who also teaches at Mid-Columbia Partnership, created Spotify, Pandora and YouTube playlists featuring Christmas Carol Lane’s featured songs.
Nettleton, who has lived in the neighborhood since 2013, transformed her garage into a neighborhood workshop so people could drop in to paint their songboards.
Britton called Nettleton “our best cheerleader” and a “good peopley-person” who is able to foster connections.
Work parties canvas the neighborhood in the weeks leading up to Christmas, pounding fence posts and attaching the plywood songboards for those who need assistance.
In the past six years, the group has built and produced about 54 songboards.
Faultersack points to Britton’s organizational skills and encouraging nature as key to the project’s success.
After all, Britton has experience running a business. She owns Tri-Cities Diesel in Pasco, taking over the 53-year-old family business from her dad more than 30 years ago. It’s a full-service pump and injector rebuild facility that also offers engine diagnostics for diesel pickups.
The neighborhood rallies around Christmas but it also celebrates other holidays. The women help to organize an Independence Day barbecue.
Britton keeps her clipboard handy as she’s already thinking about winter during the hot summer days.
She passes out forms to people if they want to replace their songboard or change their song. She shares a list of ways people can help and the welcome letters.
Neighbors bring potluck dishes to share at a wintertime chestnut roast around fire pits. Some years Santa drops in to visit.
“We take hayrides around the block and sing,” Britton said.
They participate in the Hometown Holiday Parade in downtown Kennewick.
They look after one another. One year a neighbor needed assistance to get her husband home from the hospital in a snowstorm and asked for help. Within 15 minutes, three men were shoveling her driveway.
A lost dog was reunited with its owner after another neighbor spotted it and posted about it in their Facebook group.
Those who live on the lane refer to where their neighbors live by their carol songboard instead of house numbers.
“I have had a lot of people tell me: ‘We don’t have neighbors like this anymore,’ ” Britton said.
The three women wear their bright red Christmas Carol Lane T-shirts. One of their neighbors bought them T-shirts that say “Christmas Carol Lane Police” on them.
They know it’s in good humor, but they embrace their role of patrolling their neighborhood to keep it connected and Christmas Carol Lane sparkling with good cheer.
“This is what we do,” Britton said.
Go to: christmascarollane.org or find on Facebook @ChristmasCarolLane.