Since 1968, come rain or shine, Joan Sue Betson's yard on Galaxy Drive in Newport Beach has been a Christmas Eve beacon.
In old photos, hundreds of candles can be seen glowing inside brown paper bags, side by side on a retaining wall in front of the sprawling Spanish-style home and lining the driveway. Rows of the homemade luminaries shine from window sills and light the porch.
"It used to be quite an event to walk out here every year," said neighbor John Senick, who has lived behind the house for about seven years.
Early this year, though, Betson died. She was 82. The house has since been sold, and her family will start spending their holidays elsewhere.
But not before the Betsons paid a small tribute to "Joanie," as family members and neighbors knew her, Tuesday evening.
Rather than covering the lawn with 400 to 500 candles, as Betson would have done, Betson's children and grandchildren lit just a few. They flickered in the fading light on that retaining wall.