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December 2, 2009 > Celebrate the Crippsmas spirit!

Celebrate the Crippsmas spirit!

By Miriam G. Mazliach
Photos By Courtesy of Kate Amon

Walk or drive through the Crippsmas winter wonderland at this special time of year. 'Tis the season to come and gaze at colorful holiday displays and decorated houses adorned with festive lights!

Taking place yearly since 1970, this community fundraising event, December 5 through December 26, sets the mood for the holiday season. Neighbors and volunteers demonstrate their creativity and generosity by helping to raise funds for six local charitable organizations.

This year all six designated charities will have the funds divided equitably among them:
Leukemia-Lymphoma Society, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, SAVE (Safe Alternatives to Violent Environments), HERS Breast Cancer Foundation, Kidango 'Gifts from the Heart' program (provides needy children with basics & toys), and Adopt an Angel (for children in Alameda County's Child Protective Services).

Originally begun by Robert (Spider) Cantley, 40 years ago, Kate Amon stepped up as event coordinator for 'Crippsmas Place' a few years ago, with a group of dedicated volunteers, after Cantley retired and moved away.

"I had enjoyed taking my own kids around to see all the lights. I didn't want to see such a great neighborhood tradition disappear, so I became involved," says Amon.

With the assistance of another neighbor, Dave Richards, Amon formed the official non-profit organization Crippsmas Club for their charitable giving. In addition to the original designated charity, an additional five were added at the suggestion of volunteers.

Other long-time neighborhood volunteers include Laverne Metzger, who is the current chief artist, creating many new plywood cutout decorations and restoring older ones. Jerri Bowen, the main volunteer coordinator for the event is assisted by Wendy Arnold in coordinating the candy cane distribution. Melissa Arnold works on decorations and also created a new Facebook page for 'Crippsmas Place.' Elizabeth Haddad helps with publicity and banners while Loren Wiseman ensures everything is in place each evening on Wellington Place for the charity drive.

Residents and volunteers create, paint and decorate larger than life cutout cartoon, movie or other recognizable characters to display in their front yards or around their homes. Over 70 - 80 houses are involved, highlighting their brightly lit displays and themed decorations. Volunteers even assist those who wish to participate but need help setting up their displays.

This year there are 20 new character decorations, including figurines from the Up movie, Horton, Bee Movie, Cars and many more. So when you're on Wellington Place, be on the lookout for these creative additions to the holiday scenery!

Money is raised from donations received by the multitudes of visitors who come into the area to view the remarkable holiday displays. Volunteers also distribute candy canes, at Wellington Place, to children who come by. According to Amon, this event raises $12,000 - $14,000 each year, which will be divided equally among the benefiting charities.

The area encompassing 'Crippsmas Place' covers the streets of Asquith Place, Cripps Place, Wellington Place, Nicolet Court and Nicolet Avenue. With thousands of visitors each year, this is one of Fremont's most visited and decorated neighborhoods during the holiday season.

"It's always a joy to see the happy families visiting, especially the enthusiasm of the children," says Amon. "Supporting several deserving charities on top of that makes the efforts even more worthwhile."

Celebrate this time of cheer and good will by visiting 'Crippsmas Place.' Wishing you a 'Merry Crippsmas' and all the best in the New Year!

Crippsmas Place
Saturday, December 5 - Saturday, December 26
6 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Directions at www.CrippsmasPlace.org
Donations from this event support six local charitable organizations.
For more information contact Kate Amon at (510) 821-5579.

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