San Benito Lifestyle

Severinsen Street lights fuel the holiday spirit

Hollister residents spread joy by decorating for Christmas.

In Hollister, Severinsen Street is synonymous with holiday spirit. The picturesque homes on the tree-lined street are a perfect backdrop for holiday lights and décor. 

Resident Bill Parcell moved there in 2003.

“We participated our first year living on the street,” said Parcell, who teaches at Rancho San Justo Middle School along with his wife Debbie. “We were given friendly hints (by our realtor and new neighbors) when we moved in, that we needed to make sure and decorate for the holidays.” 

Photo by Patty Lopez Day.
Photo by Patty Lopez Day.

There is no formal neighborhood association, so the people who live on Severinsen Street participate voluntarily.  Although residents decorate for two other holidays—Halloween and July 4—they are best known for their homes’ outdoor Christmas lights and decorations. According to Parcell, families usually donate $20-$25 per holiday event, and the funds raised are then used to request permits from the city.

“I’m not sure what keeps the tradition going,” he said. “New neighbors seem very eager to join in, even though there is no requirement.”

Severinsen Street resident Alex Medina and his daughter Natalia wave at cars as they pass. Photo by Patty Lopez Day.
Severinsen Street resident Alex Medina and his daughter Natalia wave at cars as they pass. Photo by Patty Lopez Day.

The Severinsen Street experience has become a tradition for local residents who make it a point to drive by and view the intricate displays. Participating residents of Severinsen band together to take on different activities, with each family setting up their own decorations and everyone pitching in as needed.

“Several of us take on most of the work—a solid nine families—but anyone who is asked to help pitches in when they can,” Parcell said. “It is definitely a group effort.”

Jessica and Jason Rianda have lived on Severinsen Street for the past five years.

“Regardless of where we have lived, our family has typically decorated more than most. Living on Severinsen Street seemed like the right fit for us. Our kids enjoy every holiday and helping the community spread the joy,” Jason said.

Photo by Patty Lopez Day.
Photo by Patty Lopez Day.

A family of seven, the Rianda house does not have a particular theme. But Jason said, “Our goal is to make it as festive as possible!” They also make a point of purchasing one new large decoration to add to their collection every year.

It takes the Rianda family a few weekends to set up their display and five or six hours to take it down.

“We have a pretty solid system and get as many of the kids’ hands on deck as possible,” Jason said.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been few family activities that have survived the see-saw of stay-at-home orders and restrictions. Since the event is outdoors and allows for people to remain in their cars, Severinsen Street offers families a traditional pastime without health risks.


BenitoLink is a nonprofit news website that reports on San Benito County. Our team is working around the clock during this time when accurate information is essential. It is expensive to produce local news and community support is what keeps the news flowing. Please consider supporting BenitoLink, San Benito County’s news.

Patty Lopez Day

Patty Lopez Day,  has been a reporter for Benitolink since August of 2019.  A journalist and writer by trade she's had work published in print and online media throughout the Bay Area most notably La Oferta, the longest running Bi-lingual, Latino owned media outlet based in San Jose California where she started her journalism career after graduating from UC Santa Barbara with degrees in English and [email protected] studies in 2005.   Lopez Day covers Education, and Local News for Benitolink and remains open to new story ideas, sources and tips on any subject matter of interest to the community at large.