Merry Christmas from the alley way

rpulley@lsjournal.comDecember 25, 2013 

Christmas Alley is sharing holiday cheer again this year.

The neighborhood in the New Longview subdivision is like many homes in Lee’s Summit, decorated with lights, inflatables and more. But they give it a slight twist, decorating the backdoor entrances to their homes in a collective effort.

Jan Rase and Eric Jones recently talked with the Journal about the project, which started four years ago and is becoming a tradition. Rase said Jones is one of the founders and undertakes the job of coordinating the plan for each year.

The alley between 15 homes along Loula and Ovation drives has entrances to garages through an alley in the New Longview subdivision, which is built in the so-called Traditional Urban Design.

The idea was born on a summer night, Jones said.

“I’ve been given credit, but there were several of us out in the alley having the discussion, I just sent out the email,” Jones said.

About Thanksgiving, the first notice went out and the neighbors took whatever scraps of wood and spare paint they had to make yard art. The first year they used plastic pipe to put up an 18-foot-tall gateway (it had to be high enough for trash trucks to pass underneath.) They put a grove of artificial Christmas trees on a vacant lot, until a new neighbor built a house there.

The first year they used plastic pipe to put up an 18-foot-tall gateway (it had to be high enough for trash trucks to pass underneath.) Now they erect a smaller placard of lights at the end of the alley.

Jones said he has heard from his business clients across Lee’s Summit that the come to make the short drive through the alley each year. It’s a side trip while visiting the nearby bigger display of Christmas in the Park at Longview Lake.

Rase said theirs’ is a close-knit neighborhood that socializes, often chatting in the alley behind their homes and there their children play together.

Last year the neighborhood held a Toys for Tots drive, putting out a barrel and collecting a lot of donations. Rase said strangers coming to the subdivision would see the sign and go to CVS store up the street, buy items and come back to contribute.

The idea was born on a summer night, Jones said.

The display is adjusted as more lots sold and homes are built. The neighbors band together to provide spare lights for a vacant home, Rase said.

When a new neighbor moves in, right away they’re told about Christmas Alley so the can take part, Rase said. If they need some help with spare lights or ideas, they get a hand.

“Everyone pitches in,” Rase said.

Jone says he has a proud and festive feeling coming home from work and can see the alley as he approaches the street.

Jones said the original plan was to make the alley Griswold tacky (from the movie Christmas Vacation starring Chevy Chase).

“When we were done, it was just amazing, there was nothing tacky about it at all,” Jones said. “Now it’s kind of our thing, it’s the Christmas Alley.”

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