A new holiday decorating trend in Long Beach

Tunnels of lighted arches brighten neighborhood sidewalks


Bella Kim

A colorful light display on Monogram Ave in Long Beach.

Bella Kim and Sofia Youngs

LONG BEACH, CA — As yards fill with holiday lights, a new trend emerges in Long Beach. Nighttime strolls to admire decorations become a magical experience because of residents who banded together to line the sidewalks with lighted arches. People can walk through tunnels of lights that stretch entire blocks, illuminating streets with a cheerful seasonal glow. 

To create their own arches, a person needs PVC pipe, PVC connectors, extension cords, and strings of lights. These materials can be purchased at hardware stores like Home Depot for about $20 to $30. The length of materials depends on how many and what sized arches people want. Decorators wrap the assembled and positioned pipes with white or colored strings of lights, and some hang ornaments from the tops of the arches. 

“It’s so pretty. I can sometimes see them from my school!” Long Beach resident Emily Smith said. 

“We set [them] up for the first time this year. It’s pretty cool to see at night,” said Jacob Marten, who also lives in Long Beach.

E Parapet St. is a hotspot for these enchanting tunnels. Tom Donahue and Jeremy Echnoz sparked the trend on their street in 2020. Echnoz suggested to Donahue, who had already been using arches to decorate, that they bring their neighborhood together and connect all the streets in one long holiday light tunnel. The trend took off because people were stuck at home during COVID-19, and the arches made walking through the neighborhood a sparkly holiday adventure. 

A young girl walking through a tunnel of arches decorated with mistletoe and “Merry Christmas” signs. (Bella Kim)

This year, on E Parapet St. and surrounding roads, chains of arches light up the whole neighborhood. Lighted arches have spread to other communities as well, including Rossmoor and Lakewood. People who have the arches can see the holiday cheer their decorations bring when excited kids and families rush through the glowing tunnels. 

“I’ve been living in Long Beach for over 30 years. This is the first year I’ve really seen something like this happen,” Amanda Wright said.

Looking out from one’s house or driving down the street to see rows of twinkling lights provides a respite from the stress that finals and buying gifts can bring this time of year. Aside from being a fun addition to people’s decoration displays, these arches unite communities in the holiday spirit. 

Along with E Parapet St., there is an abundance of arches in the neighborhoods between Los Coyotes Diagonal and N Studebaker Road, on the east side of E Wardlow Road in Long Beach. Take a walk or drive down these streets to enjoy the stretches of beautiful arches and holiday lights.