You know that The Season is upon us as you pass through the otherwise sleepy, two-block stretch of North Yale Avenue (a hop, skip and jump east of Fullerton College). The long and narrow, surreal landscape down the lane conjures up images of Dr. Seuss’  Whoville  or  a mystical kingdom through The Phantom Tollbooth. You are drawn into an alternate universe so removed from anything you’ve ever experienced that you’ll find yourself silently mouthing: Magical.

Hanging like other-wordly fruit orbs lit up from veteran trees lining the street, Sparkleballs are oversized ornaments that resemble disco balls or the Russian Sputnik spacecraft. No one has laid claim to its origin, but a decade ago, Don and Jeff (after learning to make them from Don’s father) incited the proliferation of these twinkling cup lights. With workshops provided by the two, everyone on their street eventually came together on the community effort of a sparkleball display. It has since been a much-anticipated annual Holiday tradition and has garnered the residents of North Yale Avenue some noteworthy recognition on the web and in local newpapers.


After the last morsel of pumpkin pie has been picked off the plate, Sparkleball Street (as Yale Avenue is known fondly by Sparkleballers across the nation) cranks up the two cranes (made available by a kind neighbor) and the spheres are festooned amidst the scraggly Eucalyptus trees. On weekend evenings, somewhat of a block party takes place with fire pits blazing to warm the chilly tourists. Residents sit out on their porches or front yards chatting and answering questions. They will even further their hospitality by offering you some hot chocolate or cider as you gaze in awe at “Christmas Heaven”.

Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus and North Yale Avenue may just be the gateway to his Village.

Make Your Own Sparkleball:

Image courtesy of: ellessu

You’ll need:

  • 50 soft, clear 9oz cups
  • hole-puncher
  • drill with a 1/2″ bit
  • string of mini-lights (100-150)
  • 200 small zip-ties

The steps:

  • Drill a 1/2″ hole in the bottom of all 50 cups.
  • With a hand-held hole-puncher, punch 4 holes evenly spaced around the top of all 50 cups.
  • Arrange 12 cups in a circle. Attach each cup using a zip-tie through the holes.
  • Create the next layer on one side of the 1st layer with zip-tied 9 cups and zip-tie each to an adjoining 1st layer cup.
  • Create the next layer on one side of the 2nd layer with zip-tied 4 cups and zip-tie each to an adjoining 2nd layer cup.
  • Insert two lights per cup. Start at the outside rim, and zigzag between inner and outer layers.
  • Repeat the steps above to create the second half of the sphere.
  • Join the two halves together with zip-ties.
  • Hang your sparkleball by making a hole between two cups. Insert an s-hook and attach hanging media of your choice: ribbon, chain, fishing line, etc. Attach a second s-hook to the top.
Optional: Chinet Cut Crystal Tumblers, chasing lights

For a photo instructional by Sparkleball Lady of, click here.

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