Seaside Ranchos, the valley-shaped Torrance neighborhood known colloquially as Sleepy Hollow, has been a holiday hotspot of extravagant Christmas decorations since 1986. But with the surge in coronavirus cases across Los Angeles County, residents were unsure how they would safely welcome visitors to the neighborhood this year.

A scaled-back version of the tradition endures this year, with pandemic-era safeguards in place worked out with city officials.

The Torrance City Council unanimously approved applying a tweaked version of its traffic and parking plan in October — first implemented last year to reduce traffic jams that clog the neighborhood’s winding streets and can impede emergency vehicle access.

The updated plan prohibits stopping on one side of every street as well as reducing the length of parking restrictions that allow for emergency vehicle access.

As many as one-third of residents who had responded to an informal survey on social media a few months back indicated they planned to either not participate or institute a “black-out” to discourage visitation.

While plenty of residents still had their lights on and decorations out on Friday evening, some of the more iconic decorations, including the Ferris wheel at the the corner house on Linda Drive and Reese Road, were missing this year to discourage photo opportunities.

“People want to decorate and get in the spirit but also play it safe,” said Tricia Blanco, president of the Seaside Neighborhood Association.

Also missing were residents who would normally be out selling snacks and hot cocoa from their driveways, and the bonfire family gatherings held in their front lawns.

Traffic was mostly contained to vehicles Friday, but plenty of people were still out and about, strolling through the windy streets along the sidewalks.

“We’re trying to keep foot traffic to a minimum and not encourage people to stop and hang around areas,” Blanco said.

The Seaside Neighborhood Association still continued its annual holiday contest, dropping by residents’ homes Friday evening, Dec. 18, to issue awards for the best decorated houses. In previous years, the Seaside Neighborhood Association would hand out one award to the best decorated house in the neighborhood but with so much uncertainty and a need for extra Christmas spirt, the association handed out three awards — two homes in the neighborhood and one home outside the Sleepy Hollow’s border.

The two winners included the Albitz family, who had only just moved into their house on Sharynne Lane last December; and the Hoffman family on Carol Drive.

“We were disappointed when we thought our first Christmas here we wouldn’t be decorating,” said Lance Albitz, whose wife, Allison had chosen the theme of the iconic toy store FAO Schwarz for their home.

“We’re pumped to win our first year,” he added.

Contact Lisa Jacobs or follow her on Twitter @lisaannjacobs.

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