Next to the entrance of Maplewood Park there’s a rather unremarkable gravel walkway. It has wire fencing on either side, a house on the left and a large privacy shrub on the right, leading to a small cul-de-sac.
Unremarkable, except for a man on one side of the fence who dedicates his time to making it a magical place for kids and neighbors.
Bob Meyer, along with his wife Nancy and son Trey Meyer, use lights, decorations and interactive displays to create Candy Cane Lane: a favorite holiday visit for many Renton folks living in that area. And this year, neighbors gathered $1,250 to help fund a shed to store everything, with the leadership of neighbor Linda Beckelman.
Meyer, a retired video editor for a local broadcast news station, has been doing the big arches of the lane for over 15 years. He said a neighbor was walking through and gave him the name idea: Candy Cane Lane. A little light bulb went off and he decided to deck the 150 foot walkway.
Beckelman volunteered some time this year to help Meyer setup. He spends five weeks preparing for the holiday season each year.
As she was helping him, Beckelman was struck by the sheer effort he puts into this setup, and how he was digging through the attic, garage and house to pull out these decorations.
“It was everywhere,” Beckelman said.
There’s even a small crawl space under the house that Meyer squeezes into each year from his son’s closet.
What he really needed was a reliable place to put all this stuff, near the actual walkway.
The shed Meyer wanted also turned out to be a way for everyone to come support Candy Cane Lane. Beckelman created a GoFundMe to pay for his shed, with a goal of $2,500. They reached half that goal, but she also was able to give Meyer a list of names and phone numbers of people willing to help him decorate for future years.
Beckelman brought the check in a large thank you card on Sunday, Jan. 19. The card was filled with comments from people who have visited Candy Cane Lane, and a list of 33 people — the donors to the GoFundMe.
Meyer spent some time laughing and reading the comments before opening the envelope with the check for his shed.
“Oh my goodness, you guys shouldn’t have,” Bob said. “That will really help out a lot. Thank you.”
Meyer said getting that check was mind boggling. Usually he will resist the neighbor who tries to give him $20 here and there, but nothing like this.
He went on to say the shed was a big financial decision. It’s a 10-by-20 Tuff Shed. There’s going to be a workbench, window and solar-powered lights with a motion sensor inside. There’s paneling to disperse the heat so his vintage plastics don’t get too hot.
The foam and plastic decorations are harder to find, making it more important to preserve his Santas, snowmen and reindeer. He scours Goodwills and thrift stores hoping to find more for his collection.
“Some of these are real pieces of artwork if you look close at them,” Meyer said.
It’s clear the displays are near to his heart. On one side of the lane his large privacy shrub, maybe 15 feet tall, spans the side of his backyard. He endures scratches and cuts from the spiked Holly leaves every year to add and remove decorations that will stick out on the other side.
There’s some things about the lane that stand out to folks attending: A box with a crank delivers free candy canes (formerly a mailbox, but Bob said folks would take off with it too much). The naughty or nice spinning wheel. Bob often tells people to keep spinning until they get “nice.” The security camera intercom that Bob occasionally uses to have “Santa” speak out to kids.
Someone who attends mentioned her two grandchildren were totally awestruck hearing Santa this year.
Christmas and Easter are the biggest holidays for the lane, but there’s some decor for Valentine’s Day, Fourth of July and Halloween. Meyer can’t get too decked out for Halloween, that being around the time of year he begins preparing for Candy Cane Lane.
After the surprise, Meyer took to Nextdoor to thank all the guests this year, and the people who supported the GoFundMe.
“A very special and heartfelt thanks to Linda Beckelman and her ‘gang’ for their support of the future of Candy Cane Lane,” He wrote.