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The student news site of Sacramento State University

The State Hornet

The student news site of Sacramento State University

The State Hornet

Student news without fear or favor

Christmas cheer aglow at the Fabulous 40s

Sacramento’s Christmas tradition
Angie Kallas
A Whoville-themed Christmas display from The Grinch Stole Christmas on 44th St. Friday, Dec. 1, 2023. Every house is free to decorate their home as they wish with cut outs, inflatables and more.

Even the Grinch can’t hate Sacramento’s nighttime holiday tradition of strolling through streets filled with Christmas lights every December.

Houses all up and down the neighborhoods of East Sacramento on the avenues of 40th Street through 49th Street spread holiday cheer with unique and over-the-top Christmas light displays.

“It feels like you’re being transported into a Hallmark movie,” Sacramento State alumna Heather Horton said. “The streets just have their own vibe, it’s like magic.”

These brightly decorated avenues are commonly known as Sacramento’s Fabulous 40s, where each house is architecturally distinct.

Jessica Benton makes it a tradition to get out and walk around the Fab 40s every year. She said she is proud to be part of Sacramento and said she enjoys the history that these homes provide.

“I know whenever I have people come visit me, I want to take them here, “ Benton said. “The houses are just all so individual and the architecture tells its own story.”

Each house in the Fab 40s speaks to its own architectural themes of gothic, romantic and even modern architecture can be found, making them so appealing to Sacramento.

This joyful Christmas tradition has been a staple for Sacramento for over 10 years and has expanded year by year with new and adaptable displays.

The Fabulous 40’s welcome sign hung on 44th St. shines bright for guests who walk and drive to see Friday, December 1, 2023. Over 30 cars drive through and park along the streets of the Fabulous 40s every December night. (Angie Kallas)

Each street has its own theme to help distinguish each avenue from one another. On 47th Street trees are wrapped in red and white lights to look like candy canes, while 41st Street is similar, but with green and white lights.

These perfectly decorated houses are meant to transport guests to a world of Christmas glee everyone can enjoy.
“My favorite is 42nd Street because they all have lights that kind of swing across,” Benton said. “It is so pretty.”

Christmas lights hanging on 42nd St. Friday, December 1, 2023. There are over four ways to view these beautiful lights. Some people choose to drive through the streets, some walk, some rent a brew bike and others choose to take a horse-led carriage through the decorated streets. All methods are welcome in the Fabulous 40s. (Angie Kallas)

Viewers of the Fab 40s partake in the holiday tradition by walking up and down the brightly lit narrow streets of the Sacramento area, viewing each house for its unique and special arrangements. Displays of decorations such as cutouts from “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” characters from Disney and even replicated sets from the movie “A Christmas Story” can be spotted outside the homes of the neighborhoods.

On colder nights, guests are able to drive up and down the streets viewing the lights from the warmth of their vehicles, while sipping hot chocolate.

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“I brought my kids down here last year and they loved it,” Sacramento resident Stacey Shapley said. “We had our Christmas music playing and we were driving up and down the streets. It was just a nice memory to make.”

Patsy Conner is a proud Sacramento resident who explores and views the lights of the Fab 40s each year. She has been coming ever since she can remember and loves to see the way the lights evolve every December.

“I remember as a teenager coming here and walking through feeling like you’re almost in a different time,” Conner said. “It’s like you’re no longer downtown and you’re transported to a whole new world.”

These streets weren’t always decorated though, and Jennifer Lippi remembers growing up on 43rd Street when this tradition began.

“Since I’ve grown up it has really evolved, it didn’t used to be as crazy,” Lippi said. “It’s actually pretty cool because every different street kind of got together with their street and decided what they wanted to do.”

It started house by house and eventually street by street until over nine different avenues embraced the holiday cheer, creating what we now know as the Christmas light display at the Fabulous 40s.

As the houses got grander each year, so did the Christmas displays.

“This is one of the jewels of Sacramento,” Benton said. “It embodies a little bit of historical peacefulness.”

This forever-evolving neighborhood uses its prestigious homes and lights to bring holiday memories to every member of its community, making the joyous season of Christmas even more special all December long.

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Katelyn Marano
Katelyn Marano, Copy Editor
(she/her) Katelyn Marano is a graduating senior with a major in journalism and a minor in English. She is currently in her second semester here at The State Hornet and is the copy editor for the spring 2024 semester. Katelyn enjoys reading and writing, and hope to take her degree into book publishing.
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  • connie gomezDec 13, 2023 at 9:33 pm

    I really enjoy the fab.40’s I’ve been going for many years now from my children to my grandkids.Must see to appreciate all the work that goes into putting Joy and a smile on Everyone’s face …