The Return of the Giant Candles to Lorain Road

Luke Aloe, 13, and Connor Lee, 11, of San Marino are keeping a 50-year-old tradition alive:  5-foot-high “candles” in every neighbor’s front yard.
Luke Aloe, 13, and Connor Lee, 11, of San Marino are keeping a 50-year-old tradition alive: 5-foot-high “candles” in every neighbor’s front yard.

It’s easy to get into the holiday spirit when you stroll down part of Lorain Road in San Marino, thanks to the work of two boys for the last few years.
In nearly every yard on their block of Lorain Road, there stands a holiday candle, perhaps 5 feet high and crafted from metal tubing and a tiki torch. Luke Aloe, 13, and Connor Lee, 11, have taken it upon themselves to make them, with the hope of bringing back what once was a tradition on their block.
About 50 years ago, a Lorain Road resident who owned a metal tubing company had gotten the idea.
“One Christmas, he decided to give every family on Lorain Road a candle that included a smudge pot and a red tube decorated to look like a candle,” Lee explained. “Throughout the years, the tradition would sometimes die down because people would get rid of them or the candles would get stolen.”
Aloe said his family moved next door to Lee’s family a few years ago and that’s when the two discovered an old candle in their garage that had been left over.
“We became friends and his mom told us there was this tradition,” Aloe said. “We went into his garage and found an old candle and then we had an idea: what if we brought back the old tradition?”
So, Lee put up his original candle and they made a newer one for the Aloes’ yard. Installation was simple enough, with four stakes needed to prop up the candles.
“Connor and I put ours up and our neighbors who hadn’t thrown theirs away started putting them out,” Aloe said.
For those who no longer had their candles, Aloe and Lee were on the case. Since then, they have taken orders from neighbors to craft the candles for other yards in the block; right now, there are 30 set up, and the boys run a side business of topping off the oil in the tiki torches as needed (“We have pretty tight schedules,” Lee said.) For Mandarin-speaking neighbors, they have prepared a flyer in Mandarin to help out.
“This year’s our biggest year yet,” Aloe said, with Lee adding, “We’re thinking about expanding to other streets and further down Lorain Road next year.”
From 6-9 p.m. each night, their block of Lorain Road is aglow as the candles are lighted; the tubing is painted to resemble a tall red candle with white melted wax running down from the flame. Playfully, the boys said this is their response to the decorated trees on nearby St. Albans Road.
“They get to learn how to be little entrepreneurs and get into the spirit as well,” said Aloe’s mother, Noelle.
Luke Aloe said he’ll keep up the business (the boys charge only for the materials) and hopefully pass it along to his younger sister and other neighborhood children. On top of adding to the charm of their neighborhood, the boys said it was a great way for them to get to know their fellow neighbors.
“Apart from this area, I didn’t know any of my neighbors,” Lee said. “It was a great community-building experience. I feel like we found out a lot more about our community and how to work together.”
“We definitely want every house to have a candle that can be lighted every night,” Luke Aloe said.

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