It isn't Christmas time on Teloma Drive in Ventura until every reindeer is harnessed, every wise man is in place, and the snow is piled up in mounds of white fluff.
Then the lights flicker on, the traffic lines up bumper to bumper, and "Candy Cane Lane" opens for another season. This year, show time begins at 5 p.m. Sunday.
And it's quite a show, one that for 38 years has drawn crowds to the tree-lined block where 28 elaborately decorated houses and yards glow.
But this may be the last year for Candy Cane Lane as we know it. Resident Carol Cole said that after nearly four decades of dressing up their houses, some residents are just plain tired.
"A lot of them are growing older," she said. "And the traffic has been really terrible."
Each November, residents of the street get together and vote on whether to continue the tradition, she said. If they decide not to decorate as a whole street next year, individual homes could still continue the decorating tradition.
As for her home, the Nativity scene will be in place as usual, with the angel perched in a tree overhead. Figures for the scene are large, hand-made cutouts.
This marks the 38th year Glenn and Phyllis Gooss have gussied up their home for the occasion. They were in on it from the start when four couples on the street got together for a potluck dinner one fall and thought it would be fun to decorate their homes for Christmas.
It was a modest tradition in the beginning, according to Gooss, with a few big candy canes illuminated with spotlights. Then one year they thought it would be nice to add big Christmas cards with their names on them. Then another year, snowmen. It grew and grew.
"Everyone does their own thing," Gooss said. Since November, he has been tinkering with his display. His back yard is littered with eucalyptus branches he stripped, painted white and draped with silver garlands. A sleigh stands unfinished, still needing runners and a coat of paint.
Last year, his yard was a little ice rink he created out of black plastic surrounded by piles of fiberglass for snow. A life-size doll, dressed as a skater, twirled on his toe, thanks to a motorized gizmo he put together. Also on his lawn was a miniature two-story house he built, completely decorated for the holidays.
This year, the little house is out. It was too much trouble, Gooss said. He's building the sleigh, where some of the many dolls he and his wife have been given over the years will sit.
Each home display is unique--one has a miniature train, another a Santa that goes up and down. There are manger scenes and reindeer of all sizes.
Three homes usually pipe out Christmas music. Groups of carolers stroll along the sidewalks.
"The biggest thrill is to see buses of handicapped people, people from Camarillo State Hospital, make this part of their Christmas," Gooss said.
For other visitors, here are a few tips. On the weekend, viewing the street by car may require a half-hour wait in traffic. For less traffic congestion, try to make a right turn onto the street rather than a left turn. Dim your headlights while inching along the street.
For those who want to stroll along the street, remember there is no parking on Teloma Drive. Stay off the lawns.
Candy Cane Lane is easy to find. Just look for the big crossed candy canes at each end of the street.
* WHAT: Candy Cane Lane, a street of elaborately decorated homes.
* WHERE: On Teloma Drive, between Loma Vista and Telegraph roads, Ventura.
* WHEN: Opens at 5 p.m. Sunday with the final night Dec. 25. Displays are lighted generally from 5 to 10 p.m.