SAN CARLOS -- If you sell your home on the 1900 block of Eucalyptus Avenue, you have to mention the lights in the disclosure packet.

What lights? Christmas lights. Oodles and oodles of holiday lights that for one month a year transform the quiet residential street into a miniature theme park, with traffic to match.

Thousands of families come every December to gaze in stupefaction at the bulbs, ornaments and figurines that cover much of the block like a kaleidoscopic blanket. Cheerful tunes blare over speakers at night as two glowing reindeer leap to haul a truck into the sky.

Most visitors hail from southern San Mateo County, some from other continents. This year, said David Newman, the block's chief impresario, there have been a lot of Eastern Europeans.

"You should have heard it last night!" Newman said one day last week. "It sounded like Russia."

Newman gets so many questions about his production -- which covers two adjacent homes and, sometime in the past few days before Christmas, receives a delivery of snowlike ice -- that he's placed a white board in his driveway with some FAQs.

But the answers are tongue-in-cheek. No, he doesn't have "exactly" 748,238 lights, as the white board says -- though that's pretty close. And, no, he doesn't power the spectacle with solar panels. He just writes that to keep environmentalists off his back, and instead forks a few thousands dollars over to PG&E.


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The tradition of over-the-top Christmas lights was established by the time Newman moved here about 20 years ago. But the impish 49-year-old owner of a successful tile and stone contracting business has steadily pushed his neighbors to new heights of extravagance.

"He got right into it, which kind of peps you up," recalled Steve Frankoni, 67, who lives right across the street. "So we said, 'Oh, jeez, better do some more here.' "

Fronkoni's yard is dominated by what appears to be a cartoon image -- a sinuous 30-foot evergreen hung with hundreds of colorful, oversize globes. There are reindeer on his lawn and a seated Santa Claus statue on the walkway to whom children confide their gift requests.

Not all the houses on the 1900 block participate in the yuletide excess, and the couple who started the tradition several decades ago have lost their enthusiasm. But the others press merrily ahead. Newman and Fronkoni both say they do it for the look of astonishment on children's faces.

Luke Kovscek's favorite adornment is Fronkoni's seated Santa. Luke and his father were out caroling Thursday, a yearly tradition of the local Church of the Epiphany's youth choir. Asked about Newman's lights, the 10-year-old was inspired to create a word.


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"They look cool-ee!" he said before dashing off to rejoin his friends.

Contact Aaron Kinney at 650-348-4357. Follow him at Twitter.com/kinneytimes.