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December 7, 2010 > Crippsmas Place lights up another holiday season

Crippsmas Place lights up another holiday season

By Alissa Gwynn
Photos By courtesy of Kate Amon

Every year, Crippsmas Place wows visitors during the holiday season with its fabulous display of lights, character cutouts, and other decorations. This year is no different; residents of namesake Cripps Place in Fremont, nearby Wellington Place, Nicolet Avenue and the surrounding neighborhood are celebrating and giving back to the community once again from December 11-25.

The tradition of Crippsmas Place dates back to the 1960s, when Robert "Spider" Cantley first created the fundraiser to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Today, the event has grown into a local phenomenon: decorations now span five cul-de-sacs and feature almost every cartoon character imaginable, from Disney classics and "Sesame Street" to newer additions like "Avatar" and "Up." Candy canes are passed out to visitors as they walk by and admire the decorations.

Much of this growth is due to the hard work and dedication of a group of neighbors, dubbed the "Crippsmas Club." The Club is led by Kate Amon, who took over as Crippsmas Club Coordinator when Cantley retired and moved out of town in 2004. Amon says, "I've been very impressed to discover how resourceful and generous my neighbors are! Between getting decorations made, setting up the candy cane handout, and the daily tasks every evening, there's a lot to do. There's no way I could personally do it all myself. But I think it's a great thing more people are involved - it builds community!"

Some notable members include artists Laverne and Francis Metzger, who create and restore decorations; Wendy Arnold, who schedules the "candy cane volunteers;" Loren Wiseman; Elizabeth Haddad; and Georgia Butterfield.

In keeping with Cantley's original vision of giving back to the community, the Crippsmas Club will be splitting all donations evenly amongst six local charities:

-Leukemia Lymphoma Society- "Fighting blood cancers"
-Juvenile Diabetes Resarch Foundation-"Dedicated to finding a cure"
-Safe Alternatives to Violent Environments (SAVE) - "Because Peace begins at Home"
-HERS Breast Cancer Foundation- "Caring for Women and families until there's a cure"
-Kidango's Gifts from the Heart- Basics and school supplies for low income and homeless children
-Adopt an Angel- Gifts and basics for children in the Alameda County's Protective Child Services

Last year, Crippsmas Place raised $16,000, and they hope to reach a similar number this year. At the end of Wellington Place, free candy canes are handed out to passersby, and any donations visitors wish to give for the charities are cheerfully accepted.

Crippsmas Place's hours are Monday-Thursday, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.; and Sunday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Don't miss out on this year's fantastic holiday display!

Crippsmas Place
Sat, Dec 11 - Sat Dec 25
Mon-Thurs: 6 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Fri-Sat: 5 p.m. - 11 p.m.
Sun: 5 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Donation Center: Wellington Place, Fremont

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