Exploring Fremont’s most enduring holiday-themed display: Crippsmas Place
There are many things to love about the holidays: the endless cheer, the beautiful decorations, the giving spirit, the warmth of community… and Crippsmas Place, located just a few streets away from AHS, manages to combine it all into one convenient event.
It all began decades ago right here in Fremont, when in the late 1960s, Robert “Spider” Cantley decorated his home to look like Santa’s Workshop. His idea was to use this to fundraise for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society. Over the years, however, the project expanded to encompass dozens of homes in the surrounding area as well as multiple charities.
Today, community member Kate Amon spearheads the organization of this event.
“Spider was in charge of Crippsmas Place until he moved away in 2005,” says Amon. “That’s when I rallied the neighbors to carry on without him. We called the neighborhood group that worked on it every year the Crippsmas Club.”
Today, Crippsmas Place has grown into a holiday staple in Fremont that “thousands of people,” according to Amon, visit each year. Coordinated entirely by unpaid volunteers, it is now a non-profit organization that aims to “support community, charity, and childhood joy.”
“The planning process [consists of] various Crippsmas Club meetings starting in the fall,” says Amon. “I’ve also started using more technology to keep things in order. We use a massive Google Drive folder to keep track of decorations and where they will be placed.”
Despite the hard work of the Crippsmas Club, this event would be impossible without other volunteers. Setting up and taking down decorations for over fifty different houses is no easy feat, so the event is always looking for new student volunteers that can take a shift or two on the weekends leading up to and after the event.
“Honestly, it took me a few years before I realized I could get student volunteers to help with setting up and taking down decorations,” recalls Amon. “Luckily, the turnout and interest in volunteering has been phenomenal because of the need for service hours. That has made the process a lot easier.”
Not only can volunteering help high schoolers gain community service hours required for graduation, but it is the perfect way to impact the community this holiday season. All of Crippsmas Place’s proceeds go toward charity, including the Leukemia-Lymphoma Society, H.E.R.S. Breast Cancer Foundation, Safe Alternatives to Violent Environments, Adopt an Angel, the Ohlone Humane Society’s Wildlife Rehab Center, and the Fremont Family Resource Center.
Although there is no longer a need for volunteers, there are other ways to contribute to this wonderful cause.
“Donations aren’t mandatory,” says Amon, “but they are a great way to help important causes. It’s always heartwarming and reassuring to see people so dedicated to giving back.”
This holiday season, make sure to stop by Crippsmas Place. You’ll be amazed by the decorations, and have the opportunity to give back to communities and organizations that could use your support.