Fullerton's Yale Avenue is decorated with sparkleballs each holiday season.

A view down Yale Avenue on a December evening is one of Fullerton’s most memorable scenic vistas. Stop by any night between now and New Year’s Day to enjoy the experience. Photo by Daniel Coats ’15,’ 18

A holiday-themed winter wonderland is only blocks from campus. This year, be sure to check out the Yale Avenue sparkleballs, which feature brightly-colored handmade ornaments made of Christmas lights and plastic cups put up by local homeowners to celebrate the season.

Residents of a local Fullerton neighborhood have made a holiday tradition of decorating their homes, trees and lawns with lit sparkleballs, creating several blocks of dazzling winter magic that is sure to put you and your family into the spirit of the season this year. From now through early January, a walk or drive through Fullerton’s winter wonderland is a great evening or weekend diversion to share with family or friends, and a good place to come with your digital camera and try out your photography skills.

It’s all courtesy of the homeowners of this subdivision of postwar tract homes, who were inspired by the late Bill Bales Sr., a longtime Fullerton resident and World War II veteran, who learned to make the sparkleballs out of staples, clothes pins, plastic cups and mini-lights during his youth in Nebraska. The tradition spread to Bales’ immediate neighbors, then to the broader community.

Today, the district prides itself as the “Sparkleball Capital of the World,” with sparkleball-making parties held throughout the year in advance of the annual roll-out each Thanksgiving week, when trees, lawns, homes and outdoor displays are adorned with dazzling color.

Sparkleballs create a striking scene during the holidays in one Fullerton, California, neighborhood.

Sparkleballs have given residents of the Yale Avenue neighborhood east of Downtown Fullerton a simple yet dazzling way to celebrate and make their unique mark on the world. Photo by Adrienne Bailey

The displays are particularly striking on a windy night, when the bulbs swaying in the breeze make for a particularly memorable panorama.

From the Cal State Fullerton campus, the sparkleballs are a two-mile drive, walk or bike ride down Chapman Avenue. Take a right on Yale and you will be in the middle of the action, which encompasses adjacent Brookdale Place and Lincoln Avenue.

Think you want to start a sparkleball tradition at your home? Check out this YouTube tutorial on how to construct these simple illuminations. And be sure to be eco-friendly by recycling your sparkleballs for next year!

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