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SCENE ON THE STREET : Christmas Presence

December 25, 1991

Santa Claus has come to town. And from the looks of things, residents have gone to town over Santa.

From Claremont to San Marino, Christmas figurines have transformed lawns into brightly colored fantasy lands.

And for what?

To get into the Christmas spirit, some say.

To win over Scrooges, others say.

And what is the Christmas spirit?

Spending time with friends and relatives, of course. And, giving and receiving presents.

But residents' true interpretation of Christmas is all in the yard--the front yard.

Some decorators, such as the homeowners in Claremont, find themselves snowed over by a "Winter Wonderland" scene--they've covered lawns with artificial flakes and holiday characters.

Others follow the sacred Christian tradition, setting up Nativity scenes. One family in posh Chapman Woods, near Pasadena, expressed the poignancy of the scene without showing any faces.

For some, the holidays leave people with food for thought--or thoughts of food. In San Marino, one yard is now a collection of gingerbread men and women. And in a yard in Claremont stands a stocking stocked with huge candy canes.

And then there is music. Down the street from the candy cane, cutout drawings of a man and woman stand beneath a tree, singing Christmas carols while a dog watches approvingly.

Houses, lawns and trees--and whatever else is stable enough--are covered with blinking lights, eight tiny reindeer or a busy elf.

But, above all, Jolly Ol' St. Nick is as popular as ever.

At one home in Claremont, Santa can be seen loaded down with lots of Christmas presents for everyone naughty and nice.

At a San Marino home, Santa rides a sleigh pulled by--you guessed it--eight reindeer.

Neighborhood streets become jammed with holiday visitors motoring past, trying to sneak a glimpse of St. Nick and his elves or other elaborate displays that people spend hundreds of dollars and hundreds of hours to buy and show off.

This year is no different.

So . . . you better watch out, 'cause--cardboard or not--Santa Claus has definitely come to town.

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