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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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