• WHERE: Oxford Court in Turlock
• TO GET THERE: From Highway 99 take the Monte Vista Avenue exit and head east. Travel 1.2 miles to North Golden State Boulevard and turn right. Travel 0.2 miles and turn left onto Pedras Road. Travel 0.01 mile and turn left onto Oxford and drive to the end to reach Oxford Court.
• MORE INFO: visit www.facebook.com/pages/Oxford-Court-Christmas-Train/121100827953532
Oxford Court is once again assuming its role as the holiday cul-de-sac for the Turlock community, welcoming visitors from neighboring towns of Modesto, Merced, and beyond to view the anticipated Oxford Court Train.
Despite dealing with past foreclosures, residents of Oxford Court intend to keep this sacred holiday tradition running full steam and has since its beginning in 1998.
The hand-built three-car train pulls a holiday ferris wheel and Santa’s sleigh on a track elevated several feet off the ground, circulating overhead. The train is 16 feet in the air and runs every night around the cul-de-sac from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The spectacle also plays host every year to Mitchell’s Modesto Harley-Davidson Toy Run and is proud to promote the motorcycle run as part of its display efforts.
“We expect 200 to 300 strong coming out,” Oxford Court resident Michelle Jaggers said of Thursday’s motorcycle run. “We love to have Mitchell’s Harley come out. He is really generous with our cause.”
Oxford Court also serves as a drop off point for the Turlock Together program. Though the train is designed to please the crowd, many of Oxford Court’s residents hope that the show will bring a large amount of donations. This year, they have five barrels to fill with toys and food items.
“We want ... to challenge the community to come and fill the blue barrels,” Jaggers said. “The train will run every night up until Christmas night, weather permitting. There would have to be heavy rain and strong winds for us to stop.”
Oxford Court residents maintain a dedication to the community in keeping this tradition alive despite past economic interferences. Not only are the train holders hosting generous programs, but they’ve also invited Santa to join their exhibition on Dec. 22 and 23.
For more information about the Oxford Court holiday event, visit www.facebook.com/pages/Oxford-Court-Christmas-Train/121100827953532
a new tradition
A new Christmas tradition is on the rise thanks to 11-year Turlock local Ron Detwiler and his fellow holiday cohort Chris Waller. Both men mixed their personalities together to create a holiday light show using traditional carols and new age hip hop songs at their house, located at 1441 Sycamore St. in Turlock.
The two men synched 27 songs to the 20,000 light displays on the house, and connected six solar panels from APG Solar in Atwater to their device.
“It takes about 45 minutes to one hour for setting up one minute per song,” Waller said about the intense mechanics.
The house takes in so much energy that the lights inside the house beat and flicker to the songs. The home also houses a radio transmitter so that audience members don’t have to brave the cold to watch the spectacle, but can hear it in the comfort of their cars. Music to the display can be heard on car radios at 88.5 FM.
“We also have a loaned box trailer that has a TV system. I started doing this at my parent’s house, so I had two controllers and bought two more this year. We have about 9,000 watts. We’re estimating, with controllers, safety cords, and lights that the cost will be $300 to $400 per month,” Waller said.
The house plays host to an 8-foot star, 8-foot, 10-inch snowman, 10-foot mega-tree, and four leaping arches. But some holiday humbugs spite the two for their intense labor.
“It started way back in May. We would start setting it up and people would laugh at us that we were celebrating the wrong holiday. Two neighbors don’t really care about what we were doing, but we try to be respectful. We shut it down at 9. I hope in time they will get into the Christmas spirit,” Detwiler said.
There are, however, some who do more than laugh or snub at the two men’s hard work.
“We’ve had three vandalisms,” Detwiler said. “Always after or before the show.”
But the show must go on. Detwiler and Waller refuse to tear down their display because of practical jokers. Instead, they are driven by the positive reaction of community members who feel that the two men are providing more than just a spectacle, but advocating family involvement.
At first Jackie, Detwiler’s wife, was a non-believer in their efforts. Now she wears a Christmas hat and passes around candy canes during the show. Detwiler didn’t believe in the show as strongly as Waller did at first, but was later inspired by his granddaughter.
“I did it because I wanted to do more for my granddaughter,” Detwiler said of 4-year-old Kimberly. “We built it for the kids. It’s an appreciation for the community. Hopefully it will catch on.”
— BROOKE BORBA / 209 reporter