Aurora Opens Lehnertz Avenue Drive-Through Christmas Story Display
By Al Benson, For The Observer
December 17, 2020
AURORA—The 69th annual Lehnertz Avenue drive-through Christmas story display on Aurora’s far east side opened at 6 p.m. Dec. 13 when Father Matthew McMorrow, pastor of St. Joseph Parish, blessed a manger scene, the display’s centerpiece.
The public is invited to view the free display from 5 to 10 p.m. until Jan. 1, and all night Christmas eve. 
The blessing was live streamed on Facebook and Instagram. A recording will be posted on Facebook. 
Before introducing Father McMorrow, Lisa Hardekopf, Lehnertz Avenue Homeowners’ Association president, reflected on how her great-grandparents and grandparents lived on the street where she became a homeowner in 2009. She thanked volunteers and homeowners who make the display possible.
Father McMorrow led a prayer, a litany and group singing of several Christmas hymns before blessing the stable.
On Lehnertz Avenue from Sheridan Avenue to Ohio Street, the display depicts the Biblical story of Christmas with recorded music, large lighted storybooks and life-size statues and cutouts of shepherds, sheep and wisemen placed on 45 Lehnertz Avenue residents’ lawns. 
The Lehnertz Avenue Christmas display began 69 years ago when 33 families living on the two block long street decided to tell the Christmas story through decorations the families made themselves. 
According to a Dec. 18, 1955, Chicago Tribune article, “...the annual project has become symbolic of neighborhood spirit of good will toward men.”
The article also cites the display’s popularity from the beginning, “ 1954, the display attracted 18,000 cars during the three-week holiday season.” 
Everyone helped with the displays, even young girls participated by loaning a doll for the day that was used to represent the Christ child in the manger.
The tradition continues today with residents of Lehnertz Avenue still assembling the stable, a backdrop of Bethlehem and the star and residents up and down the street displaying their part of the story of the first Christmas. 
On Lehnertz Circle, a block east across Ohio Street, visitors can drive by “A Snoopy Christmas” holiday scenes.
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