Just before the start of the Candy Cane Lane Christmas display in Ravenna, thieves took a carload of decorations. They took the candy cane, penguin and seal sculptures. Why, they even took the polar bear that had been a staple of one home for 10 years.

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Bad, bad grinches. Very bad.

Who would steal a carload of Christmas decorations from a house at the famous Candy Cane Lane in Ravenna that is visited by thousands each December?

On Tuesday after work, Joan Gomberg and Paul Bodin returned to their home at Northeast Park Road and, oh, no.

“We had an Arctic scene. We have a big lineup of animals that light up. We had a bear, a seal, a penguin, a candy cane. All the lights in the bushes,” says Gomberg.

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Gone.

The family has had the decorations for years in this neighborhood of two dozen homes that since 1954 has gone all out for Christmas.

The tradition began with a Seattle Times contest for best neighborhood Christmas decorations.

When you purchase a home here you get large candy canes to place on your lawn. The street winds around a little island park with a giant holly bush.

That’s the centerpiece as cars and pedestrians make their way to take in every home’s decorations.

“I can’t imagine that you’d enjoy something you stole,” Gomberg says about the decorations.

The thieves even took one of the big candy canes.

“They did leave behind a giant igloo. I guess that was too big and cumbersome,” she says.

They also decided not steal a sign that says “Peace” in Somali. Each home has a peace sign in a different language. Even thieves have limits.

Candy Cane Lane has had some defacements before. A 2011 story in The Times’ community partner The Ravenna Blog said resident Tracey Sconyers’ “Toy Shop” home often was targeted “for some late night redecorating shenanigans.”

The story also told how that December, after the light show had been turned off for the night, “Sconyers heard some ‘unusually mean’ talk about the street coming from outside her house. Looking out the window in her front door, she could see three or four people, older than high-school age, walking by, ‘trash talking the street.’ These individuals even walked onto the porch of a neighbor’s house before getting into a white stretch SUV-style limo that had been seen driving down the lane during the light show a couple of hours before.”

The next day, said the story, many of the Sconyers’ decorations had been destroyed or stolen.

Plus, an inflatable Grinch at another home, “a local holiday icon,” was missing. All that was left of the Grinch were “some shredded pieces of fabric and bare wires.”

And some years further back, somebody cut the top off a small fir tree on a home on the adjoining Northeast Ravenna Boulevard, presumably for use as a Christmas tree.

In the neighborhood, Gomberg says, suspicion inevitably falls on a fraternity prank, as the University of Washington is a short distance away.

“That’s the most logical thing,” she says. “It’s not very funny.”

So be on the lookout, drivers, for a lit-up penguin. Maybe on Frat Row, maybe somewhere else.