Boys organize local Candy Cane Lane

Boys organize local Candy Cane Lane
Dakota Benner, 7, left, and Brennan Helper, 6, decorates an outdoor tree. A holiday house-decorating contest is planned to bring the community together. Photo by Promise Yee

OCEANSIDE — Two pint-sized friends and neighbors decided they wanted their block to turn into a Candy Cane Lane for the holidays, and invited 70 neighbors to join them in decorating their houses with lights.

“We knew Christmas was coming up, and said ‘let’s do this,’” Brennan Helper, 6, said.

Brennan and Dakota Benner, 7, passed out announcements for a holiday house-decorating contest two weeks ago, and houses on Mesa Drive are already starting to light up with tinsel and trim.

“It’s going to be awesome,” Mary Jane Helper, Brennan’s mom, said. “We’ve gotten a really good response.”

Dakota pointed out a house two doors down with an inflatable Santa Claus on the roof.

“Their entire house is lit up!” Dakota said.

Brennan and his mom are still adding decorations to their house, and said they expect to see more lights along the street next week.

This is not the first time the boys have reached out to their neighbors. Two years ago the boys made and delivered cards to neighbors, this year holiday decorations came to mind.

“They’re always coming up with different plans together,” Helper said. “I’m proud of them.

The boys are also proud of their idea, which has been noted on the website of the elementary school they attend.

“I never thought we’d be famous,” Dakota said.

As part of the festivities Willie Buchanon, former NFL player for the Green Bay Packers and San Diego Chargers, will judge and award the three best decorated houses with certificates and yard plaques. Buchanon grew up on Mesa Drive and his mother is still a neighbor and close friend of the Helpers.

The aim of the decorating contest is to bring neighbors together to enjoy the holidays. Helper lived on Mesa Drive when she was young, and recently moved back with her husband and son to help her mother. Longtime neighbors like the Buchanons still live on the street, but busy traffic does not allow new neighbors the opportunity to meet.

“We know our immediate neighbors across the street, but don’t say hi too much,” Helper said. “We’re trying to change that.”

She added children on the block are excited about the decorations, and the idea of turning the street into a Candy Cane Lane is already building community.


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