How the pandemic created a new holiday decorating trend in Long Beach – Spectrum News 1

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LONG BEACH, Calif. — Walking along the sidewalk of the 6700 block of Parapet Street feels like going under a tunnel of holiday lights.
Neighbors here have banded together and decorated the front of their homes and sidewalk with archways wrapped in white string lights that would turn any Grinch into an awe-struck little kid.  
For years, Tom Donahue, a 55-year-old long-time Long Beach resident, had decorated the front of his home on East Parapet Street with lighted holiday arches.
"I actually saw it at someone’s house about 14 years ago, so I started doing it," Donahue said. "But it wasn’t until last year when COVID hit that it really took off."
A neighbor, who lives down the street, Jeremy Echnoz, approached Donahue last year about a holiday decorating idea.
"Wouldn’t it be great to link all of the houses on the block and create a tunnel of lights?" Donahue recalls Echnoz asking.
It started small last year, but other people in the neighborhood took notice of the lighted decoration, and this year, it seems everyone on the block and surrounding areas got in on the action.
A Long Beach tradition was born, Donahue said.
With so many people forced and opting to stay home last year due to the coronavirus pandemic and pandemic-related restrictions, the arches provided a nice outdoor respite. 
"COVID really helped drive this," Donahue said. "Last year, not a lot of people could do anything. But with these arches, they can come out, walk under them and have a good time. It was actually the best year for it to take off."
And the decorating trend has taken off outside of Parapet Street.
People from surrounding neighborhoods in different parts of Long Beach, Lakewood, West Covina and Rossmoor in Orange County have put up holiday arches. Donahue said he’s heard from his friends who want to start it in Arizona and Idaho.
Donahue said creating an archway is easy. A person just needs to buy a 10-foot PVC pipe, a couple of electric metallic tube pipes, extension cords, and a 25-foot light string of their favorite holiday color. The materials are about $25 to $30 and are readily available at any home improvement store.
This year, a few enterprising people had made installing the arches into a side business.
Mauricio Miranda, a 22-year-old accounting student from Long Beach, has installed more than 1,000 archways since the beginning of the holiday season. 
Miranda charges $60 to install an archway, which comes with the materials and lights for his clients to keep. He said it takes about an hour to install five to six archways by himself.
"The archways provide something different," Miranda said as he installed a home in Rossmoor. "It looks great and with the pandemic still going on, people can walk around in the neighborhood with their family."
For Donahue, that’s what he enjoys — he loves watching the families and kids walk underneath the holiday archways in front of his home. 
"It’s cool," Donahue said. "It’s really nice. We’ll be sitting at home and then hear laughter and kids running through them. It makes me smile. It’s a good feeling. A kid’s laughter is the best, especially during this time of year."


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