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Lehnertz Ave Christmas Display

Lehnertz Ave in Aurora, Illinois (just outside of Chicago) has a special place in my heart. Not just because my dad grew up on that street, but because every year its residents put on a Christmas display that people travel from near and far to see. Growing up, I remember lines of cars wrapped around the block just waiting to experience it!

Lehnertz Ave Christmas Display - Aurora Illinois - Wanderlust in the City

It all began 63 years ago, when residents felt that the true meaning of Christmas was being buried beneath the shopping, parties and presents that this season brings. So they gathered together and developed an idea for Christmas decor that would tell the story of Jesus’ birth. Each person gave what talents they had to develop the concept, from painting and building to lights and sound. The result remains a touching tribute to the essence of the holiday, and is an incredible thing to witness year after year.

Lehnertz Ave Christmas Display - Aurora Illinois - Wanderlust in the City

The experience begins at the top of the street, with the sign “Gloria in Excelsis Deo.” Christmas music plays on speakers attached to decorated streetlights, and you can’t help but feel that you’re about to experience something remarkable.

Lehnertz Ave Christmas Display - Aurora Illinois - Wanderlust in the City

Lehnertz Ave Christmas Display - Aurora Illinois - Wanderlust in the City

As you walk along the path, books are illuminated which tell the story of the first Christmas, piece by piece.

Lehnertz Ave Christmas Display - Aurora Illinois - Wanderlust in the City

Lehnertz Ave Christmas Display - Aurora Illinois - Wanderlust in the City

My extended family and I usually take turns reading each book out loud as we walk, a tradition that began before I can remember.

Lehnertz Ave Christmas Display - Aurora Illinois - Wanderlust in the City

This year I went with my grandma, aunt, dad and cousins.

Lehnertz Ave Christmas Display - Aurora Illinois - Wanderlust in the City

Lehnertz Ave Christmas Display - Aurora Illinois - Wanderlust in the City

On the opposite side of the street from the books are shepherds watching over their flocks, mirroring what’s happening in the Christmas story.

Lehnertz Ave Christmas Display - Aurora Illinois - Wanderlust in the City

Lehnertz Ave Christmas Display - Aurora Illinois - Wanderlust in the City

Lehnertz Ave Christmas Display - Aurora Illinois - Wanderlust in the City

Who would have thought that you’d see a sign like this in Illinois?!

Lehnertz Ave Christmas Display - Aurora Illinois - Wanderlust in the City

Lehnertz Ave Christmas Display - Aurora Illinois - Wanderlust in the City

Eventually, the other side of the street opens up into a field, with a giant NOEL sign that I climbed a lot as a child!

Lehnertz Ave Christmas Display - Aurora Illinois - Wanderlust in the City

Lehnertz Ave Christmas Display - Aurora Illinois - Wanderlust in the City

But by far the most amazing part of Lehnertz Ave is the life-size manger at the end of the street.

Lehnertz Ave Christmas Display - Aurora Illinois - Wanderlust in the City

Lehnertz Ave Christmas Display - Aurora Illinois - Wanderlust in the City

This manger was built by the residents, and is special to all of us because my grandpa was part of it.

Lehnertz Ave Christmas Display - Aurora Illinois - Wanderlust in the City

You’re not supposed to go inside, but we’ve always been a family of rule breakers!

Lehnertz Ave Christmas Display - Aurora Illinois - Wanderlust in the City

Lehnertz Ave Christmas Display - Aurora Illinois - Wanderlust in the City

This year, the display is up until January 2nd, and you can find updates for future years here. The lights and music will be going from 5:00 – 10:30pm every night, except for Christmas Eve when it will last all night.

Lehnertz Ave is such a special place, and I hope that your experience will be as precious as mine has been.

Lehnertz Ave Christmas Display - Aurora Illinois - Wanderlust in the City

Merry Christmas, and have a happy New Year.

~A

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2 replies »

  1. Beautiful! I wish I were a little closer to Illinois to visit. I think I am going to do something similar with the scripture and candles next year although the candles might have to be different sizes of blow mold since I don’t know how the above candles were made.

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