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Neighbors Light Up East Juniper Street

East Juniper Street Honors Tradition

The Alvarez women put the finishing touches on their East Juniper Street home Sunday night.

Rosalyn Alvarez, 27, strung lights around a cardboard reindeer’s horns while her father, Tito Alvarez, directed her from across the street.

"Looks good," he said.

The Alvarez family has lived on East Juniper Street for 19 years. Every Christmas, they decorate their house with white lights and a colorful train set.

"We do it for the children," Maria Alvarez said.

Maria Alvarez said she plans to serve hot chocolate, candy and cookies to the children who visit the neighborhood next weekend.

"That way they can enjoy the street with a nice cup of hot chocolate," she said.

CARS LINED EAST Juniper Street Sunday night. Neighbors filled its sidewalks and children ran up and down the well-lit street.

Every year around this time East Juniper Street residents decorate their homes for the holidays.

Frank Tomlinson referred to himself as one of the "originals" on the street.

The Sterling Park resident moved to East Juniper Street in 1982.

"It all started with one house at the top of the street," he said.

Tomlinson remembered his former neighbor Maurice Painter, who, in 1988, got his neighbors together over a weekend and passed out boxes of Christmas lights to everyone.

"He said, ‘get started,’" Tomlinson said, "and we’ve been going ever since."

Painter died last year, but he started a tradition Sterling residents, like Maria Tornud, look forward to every year.

Tornud visited the street for the third time, this year. Her son, Emil, 1, touched the red, yellow and green lights wrapped around a tall, thick tree.

"He loves it," she said. "It has become our family’s tradition to see the lights every year."

IT TAKES Tomlinson about a week to decorate his house, and he adds new decorations to his display every year.

"I do it for the children," he said. "It’s great to see the smiles on their faces. They get so excited. It makes it all worthwhile."

Maria Alvarez agreed.

Now that her children are grown up, Tito Alvarez Jr. said he will never forget growing up on East Juniper Street. The 26-year-old former Potomac Falls High School student said this time of year means a lot of traffic for the otherwise quiet street.

"But I wouldn’t have it any other way," he said. "I still look forward to this."