The Tunnels of Joy is a huge sensation for the local town of Brentwood, California. In the month of December, residents of La Costa Drive in Brentwood display lights wrapped around an arbor made out of PVC pipes on their sidewalks. These are of course accompanied by several more holiday decorations in almost everyone’s front yards. This, now an annual tradition, started in 2016.
Local high school students have been attending this event since they were children.
“I have lived in Deer Ridge my entire life, but I remember first going in probably seventh grade. My first time going was with my youth group… after church all of us walked through all of the lights,” said Sophia Bella Casteneda (12).
“This has become an annual tradition of going with my friends every year. We usually spend anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour or so each time we go. I go pretty much every weekend but it just depends on which friend or friends I go with,” said Mary Flynt (12).
This event has everything you could ask for this holiday season. Thousands upon thousands of lights glow throughout the night on La Costa Drive. This year, they have the whole street filled with holiday decorations, food trucks, hot chocolate and several places where you can donate to either a specific person battling cancer or an organization which helps people fight cancer.
The Tunnels of Joy has this name for a specific reason. These tunnels started after Joy Bursch, who lost her battle to cancer in 2009.
“We were the first house on the block back when the houses in Deer Ridge were first being built. My late wife, Joy, was very friendly with all of our neighbors. She would introduce herself whenever someone moved into the new houses on the street. She became friends with everyone on the street,” said Heritage High School Principal Assistant, Mr. Bursch.
It is clear to see that Joy Bursch truly lived up to her name. Those who knew her say she was a beacon of joy for everyone around her. The lights started nearly seven years after her passing.
“The bond of the street grows even stronger. That doesn’t just happen. It takes effort and it takes a strong core of people to lead the way. Joy was at the heart of that core, and others have carried that mantle honoring the legacy ever since,” wrote an article by the East Bay Times.
“I no longer live on the street, I live somewhere else but back when the lights started, a neighbor called me and asked if it was okay if they set up lights in her honor. I said absolutely,” said Mr. Bursch.
“[The tunnels] truly tells that if you are a good person and there is meaning to your life, it will come back to you – even through your death. Joy was a good person and she shared her joy with everyone around her,” said Mr. Bursch.
The Tunnels of Joy are a beautiful sentiment this holiday season, especially after everything people have gone through with the pandemic.
Joy Bursch’s story truly shows us you can find joy in any situation and these tunnels are truly a reminder of that.
To keep the cause going, the neighborhood now sponsors people fighting cancer. If you would like to donate to the cause, visit this link: https://www.instagram.com/tunnelsofjoy/?hl=en