Neighbors on ‘Christmas Street’ light up for 25th anniversary

'Christmas Street' has been around longer than the Rotary Lights

Downtown La Crosse isn’t the only place you can enjoy Christmas lights this year. There’s one neighborhood on the southeast side of La Crosse where residents have been lighting up their street for more than two decades now.

Every year, the neighbors who live on “Christmas Street” light up their houses to promote the spirit of Christmas. It’s a tradition that even spans longer than the Rotary Lights and they are celebrating 25 years this year.

Now Christmas Street isn’t actually the name of the street at all. Its official name is East Fairchild Street, but when a neighbor felt the need to bring a little holiday cheer to her community, a tradition was born and it became known as Christmas Street.

“Julie ended up starting it 25 years ago and it was something to get our families together and enjoy Christmas,” said Ed Przytarski.

So Przytarski, along with his other neighbors, decided to participate and started decorating the outside of his home.

“It was something we could all share,” said Przytarski. “Part of it was for our children and other children could enjoy the street lighting.”

But as time went and more and more lights were being displayed, the neighborhood get-together started to attract others in the community.

“It wasn’t just the cars or people in pick-ups, it was busloads of people going through our neighborhood and we thought this is really neat because other people are enjoying our neighborhood and getting to see what Christmas spirit is about and what neighborhood spirit is about,” said Przytarski.

From that moment on it became the norm every holiday season.

“In November we all get our reminder note,” said Przytarski. “Letting us know that the street lighting is coming up.”

Being a veteran on the street, Przytarski said he knows just how much time he needs to get his decorations up.

“As time goes on we will all play the part like, ‘Oh we aren’t decorating this year,’ and then it’s like OK really,” said Przytarski.

But even Przytarski knows not to mess with tradition.

“I do know enough that I get the conversation from not only Julie but the wife and it’s time to start moving,” said Przytarski

And you can bet they even keep an eye on some of the more recent neighbors on the street. When Adam and Morgan Foley moved in about five years ago, they knew from the start, the street was special.

“We wound up stumbling across this street when it was all lit up and all the lights up and down both sides of the street. So it kind of caught our eye,” said Adam.

“It kind of hit home for me because growing up that’s what my mom did, she went all out for Christmas and Christmas lights,” said Morgan.

The Foleys are now part of the tradition, but they distinctly remember their first Christmas on the block.

“There was a specific moment where neighbors were like, just so you know we do this big tradition on Thanksgiving,” said Morgan.

“It was that passive nature, like you know we decorate for Christmas and stuff like that. It wasn’t a ‘You need to do this if you move here,’ but it was like ‘Hey, would you be interested in doing this?'”

So the Foleys jumped right in and haven’t looked back since, especially because their four children enjoy it so much.

“Each year I think we add on more Christmas lights so it’s really bright and I like all the lights,” said Madison Foley, Adam and Morgan’s daughter.

“It helps them have high hopes for the season and you know the high spirit every time we come home or down the street for that matter,” said Adam.

It’s a tradition that started 25 years ago with one simple goal in mind: to make the holidays a little brighter for everyone.

“We all meet at the middle of the street. It has a light and we meet under the light and you kind of start and make your way around the block,” said Morgan.

“It’s getting to have interaction with other people that i may not get to talk to as much in the summer,” said Przytarski

But Przytarski knows the holiday cheer goes beyond the lights in the tree or the carolers in the lawn and he hopes the lights never burn out on this holiday tradition.

“It’s about how other people get to enjoy it. If you can put a little light into someone’s life, how much better is it?” said Przytarski.

A lot of the neighbors on the street have been here for years, but sometimes they aren’t able to decorate themselves. So Foley said others volunteer to help them out just so they can continue to be part of the tradition that they hope to carry on for another 25 years.

Christmas Street, or East Fairchild Street, is located right off of Highway 33. The lights will be lit up every night during the holiday season and neighbors encourage everyone to take part in the long-running tradition.