A drive down the 800 block of South Sparks Street will soon be a trip down memory lane for some people.
It’s a can’t-miss sight for those who haven’t seen the neighborhood’s 46-year tradition.
Sparks Street’s Twelve Days of Christmas displays will be set up by mid-December. Diane Zell, who is coordinating the displays for the second consecutive year, revived the local holiday favorite last year when she got 11 neighbors to participate.
Some of the displays were touched up or completely redone by the State College Area High School fine art club and the National Art Honor Society chapter.
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The tradition lost some of its holiday cheer over time when some neighbors declined to participate, which created gaps between houses and scrambled sequences in the displays.
“Last year, we reorganized the displays so there are no longer double displays,” Zell said. “We’re also in chronological order now.”
Zell swapped her seven swans display for a new four colly birds display.
“I was 11 years old when we first did this, and we did it as a family,” Zell said. “We all helped each other on the street, but we did our displays in our households.
“We used papier-mache and chicken wire and made the ugliest swans you’ve ever seen in your life.”
David Lembeck, who moved into his Sparks Street home in 1991, traded his five golden rings display for two turtle doves.
“The funny thing was that everyone knew my house, because I told them it was the five golden rings house,” Lembeck said.
“That’s how I gave directions, and I miss that a little bit. I’m happy with two turtle doves, though.”
Lembeck, a State College native, recalled his parents driving him up Sparks Street to look at the displays when he was a child.
“It was really fun seeing one day per house, and I think we’ve tried to coordinate that again and to have them go up in chronological order,” Lembeck said.
State College borough assistant secretary Sharon Ergler said her family has viewed the 12 Days of Christmas display for three generations.
“It’s something I grew up to see every year, and then we took our son each year,” Ergler said.
Zell is looking forward to seeing cars drive slowly on Sparks Street this year.
She’ll know why drivers have one foot on the brakes.
“I love what it represents,” she said. “I love the neighborhood can have this long of a tradition. At 46 years now, I don’t know what else has been done this long.
“New neighbors move in and pick up the tradition, so it continues to be a Sparks Street tradition. I love seeing cars drive slowly up and down at night, because you know they’re enjoying our displays.”