TRAVERSE CITY — Get off the streets and head to the alleys to find some of Traverse City’s most spectacular holiday light displays.
Residents on two blocks in the Central neighborhood festooned their garages, fences, and utility lines in a dizzying array of holiday cheer — from a lighted Creche to a moving elephant and Santa on a motorcycle — decorations that are draped across the middle of the narrow alley.
“We started with just the telephone poles, but it spread pretty quickly,” said resident Craig Dilloway. “It looks a little bit like Las Vegas back there, but it’s festive.”
Dilloway and his neighbors who share an alley between Tenth and Eleventh streets off Pine Street began their decoration binge about eight years ago. The neighbors credit Leon and Linda Lichty as their inspiration. The Lichtys for years purchased a large Christmas tree that they cut in half. The bottom half went on their porch and the top of the tree on the deck above, creating an appearance that the tree grew through the roof.
When the couple announced they would no longer be able to do the tree, neighbors talked about doing something special and the Lichtys passed along their tree lights.
“We have a really good neighborhood, a great community, and everybody just sort of grew with it,” Linda Lichty said. “They’re beautiful. You come home and see the lights and it makes you smile.”
Neighbor Matt McDonough described Linda as a sort of block mom.
“Her attitude and smile are just infectious,” McDonough said.
Two things caused the neighbors to focus on the alley. It would be something unique, and it was where the neighbors all socialized.
“I don’t know anybody across the street from me, but I know everybody on the alley,” McDonough said. “There is just a real strong sense of community there.”