In June of 1919, William "Billy" Winning, age 14 died in a tragic accident at his family home on Van Ness Boulevard. In December of 1920, Billy's mother, Mae, decorated the deodur cedar in front of the home as a memorial to Billy, who had loved Christmas. This was done at a time when few private homeowners could afford to decorate with electric lights.
In the following years other neighbors also began to decorate trees in front of
their homes and by the mid-1920's seventeen homes on Van Ness were decorated. By 1931 the practice had grown to such proportions that the displays on Van Ness earned it the nickname "Christmas Tree Lane". The practice of decorating continued to grow throughout the years only being interrupted in the weeks after the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor because of security concerns, and again during the 1973 oil crises that followed the Yom Kippur War in the Middle East.
Today, Christmas Tree Lane is managed by the Fig Garden Homeowners Association
which coordinates law enforcement agencies, civic groups and private individuals for the celebration of lights. It attracts over 100,000 visitors each year and is supported by donations from the community. It is nationally renowned as one of the first and most impressive such displays in the country, drawing visitors from the bay area and