Waverly Wonderland

Neighborhood ‘supercharged’ over Christmas display

They’re calling it Waverly Wonderland. Bird Rock truly has something special and unique this holiday season: a festive corridor of lights strung vertically up and down the eucalyptus and palm trees lining the 5500 block of Waverly Avenue, north of La Jolla Boulevard.

Neighbor Jason Meyer gets the credit for coming up with the idea. But he stresses that the holiday lights are a community project.

“We just bought our house a month or two ago and we were just talking to one of our neighbors and I said, ‘We should get lights up in these things (trees),’ ” Meyer said. “The next thing you know, we started getting up in the trees in a ladder.”

But the trees were too tall, so it was suggested that a lift could be rented to get high enough to string lights in trees. Enter Clairemont Equipment Rental and a snorkel lift.

“On Saturday, we worked from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. at night,” Meyer said.

Another Waverly neighbor, Erin Wyer, said the Christmas lights are really building the neighborhood.

“The whole block pitched in and gave a $50 donation,” she said. “We rented the lift for $400. Everyone is running the electricity from their houses for their (lit) trees.”

The effect, said Wyer, has been dramatic.

“We didn’t know how it would turn out, but it was magical when it was completed,” Wyer said. “Bellevue (Avenue) has the Halloween haunted house. Beaumont (Avenue) has the Fourth of July parade. We needed a tradition. Hopefully, we’ve started it with ‘Waverly Wonderland.’ ”

Rita O’Neil, a Waverly Avenue neighbor for 40 years who just celebrated her 87th birthday, said the Christmas display has everyone “supercharged.”

“We had a fun time unwinding all the lights and handing them to the guys (installers),” she said. “The young neighbors are all so enthused. It just feels good: real positive.”

The Christmas light show is also distinctive because it involves Waverly Avenue’s eucalyptus trees, which are beloved by neighbors, said O’Neil, who 20 years ago worked with city arborist Drew Potocki to save the eucalyptus trees when they were threatened by a drought.

“We just love these trees,” she said. “We were in a panic and Drew got involved and he wrote to Australia and got an injection for the trees which were a little diseased, and with those injections and watering with flat, drip hoses each day the trees came back.”

O’Neil said the holiday lights are having a profound — and surprising — effect on people.

“Little kids going by on Waverly look up at them (tree lights) and they’re real quiet, not like the kids on La Jolla Hermosa who are wrestling each other,” she said.

“We’ve loved these trees forever,” Wyer said. “We’ve always wanted to do something with the trees.” And now the neighborhood has. “It’s making people feel very much in the season,” Wyer said.