Friday, December 30, 2011

A Balian Points Of Light

For those of you still trying to get your Holiday Spirit on, get on up to Altadena. It's not only home to the famous Christmas Tree Lane on Santa Rosa Avenue, but it's also home of one of the biggest light displays in town.

The famous Balian mansion on Mendocino Lane near Allen Avenue, has been lighting up their house every Christmastime since 1955. The Armenian American family built an empire out of selling ice cream in 1949 and today is the largest supplier of ice cream to the LAUSD and other school districts (those of you who went to LAUSD schools know what's up).

The Militant would have linked to their website in the above paragraph, but...they don't have one.

The Militant checked it out recently and was floored. Yeah, it's bright, but surprisingly not as tacky as you'd think (seriously, there have been some real awful ones around town). It's also an equal-opportunity Christmas display, with religious figures of The Nativity, Three Wise Men and angels on one side, and secular wintery figures of Santa Claus, snowmen and sleighs on the other. Naturally, it's a tourist attraction - The Militant counted about two dozen people, mostly families, posing for pictures or taking videos.

It's relatively easy to get to - just take Allen Avenue north, keep going, keep going, keep going...after you pass New York Drive and the school on the right side, make a right on Mendocino. YOU CAN'T MISS IT, LOL. It's also transit-accesible - take the (M) Gold Line to the Sierra Madre Villa Station, and take Metro Local 264 (why you can't take a single bus from the Allen Station (the 686 stops there, but only takes you to New York Dr.)...that's Metro Logic). You can ride your bike, of course, from the Allen Station.

A Nativity scene with the Three Wise Men...

...and just a couple yards away, another set of Three Wise Men. That's gonna be awkward when they arrive.
Jolly Old St. Nick appears to be setting a brush fire!

Families pose for pictures at Altadena's biggest tourist attraction.


Kim said...

Sadly, Balian lost their LAUSD ice cream contract in summer 2009, and as this was 90% of their business, unceremoniously shut down their Boyle Heights factory. Or so I was told at the time by Bob Baker, who was very upset to have lost the longtime distributor of ice cream cups for his puppet theater! Shocked that such an old LA firm might be folding without a whimper in the press, I reached out to a few journalists and to CM Huizar's office, hoping some press or a word from the councilman might convince LAUSD to reconsider, but no dice. Great to see that the family's holiday lights are still shining, even if the wooden spoons are no more.

Militant Angeleno said...

Kim: Thanks for the update! How that news went below The Militant's radar he'll never know how. It's been a looooooong-ass time since he's had a Balian ice cream at school though!