“It is the end of an era,” said Nazare Freitas Judd, daughter of John and Carolyn Freitas, who began Garrison Street lights 39 years ago.
Peaking at about 10 homes participating some five years ago, the event has gradually dwindled down to where it started — the Freitas home.
The Garrison Street Christmas light display began humbly, with just a small nativity scene. In subsequent years, a Santa was added, then angels and Mickey Mouse characters appeared in windows. Eventually, the event transformed into something more like Disneyland.
“It became something bigger than life,” said Freitas Judd. “Garrison Street lights became an annual event for families to come to, not only to celebrate Christmas but the holiday spirit itself.”
The event went along smoothly for many years until recently when, according to Freitas Judd, “things started to slowly change. It slowly downsized, and then people began getting older or sick, dying or moving away.”
Added Freitas Judd: “My family is still putting up lights. But they are pretty much the only ones on the street this year.”
“It’s really sad to see this end … and it breaks all of our hearts, but it’s kind of changing times,” said Freitas Judd.
Putting up holiday lights was a major undertaking, noted Freitas Judd.
“It takes three to four weeks just to set up,” she said. “It’s a big huge chunk of time and effort.”
Freitas Judd said her parents “are so blessed to have been part of so many people coming together for so many years, creating a place for families to come and enjoy the holiday spirit. They are steeped in the traditions of Point Loma, and they have loved every moment of it.”
The Garrison Street light display coincided, for 18 years, with the Ybarra family hosting a hot chocolate stand fundraiser benefiting a needy Peninsulan.
The Ybarra charity fundraiser also initially started out small with their two daughters. One daughter, who was age 6 then, and her three best friends, set up a small little hot chocolate stand to benefit a young girl in Tijuana they knew who was going to have surgery. They raised about $80 and took that money and bought the girl a Barbie doll, bringing it to her hospital room.
There were subsequently 18 different fundraising recipients of the hot chocolate fundraiser over the years. Those recipients included a victim of domestic violence, a child with brain cancer, a boy who was shot and survived, a juvenile diabetes sufferer and a man who lost his arm in a boating accident. Rady Children's Hospital was a recipient one year.
That event, which had run its course, was officially “retired” in 2018.
As one holiday tradition ends, another one is lighting up Ocean Beach. Those who like to see Christmas lights displays should visit Newport Avenue between Ebers Street and Sunset Cliffs Boulevard. Several houses have amazing light displays that are set to music.