The North Pole on South Auburn: Charlie Williams and family decorate yard with Christmas wonder, open to all |

The North Pole on South Auburn: Charlie Williams and family decorate yard with Christmas wonder, open to all


Santa Claus calls it the “North Pole on South Auburn.”

He’s earned the right to call it whatever he wants, because Santa is Charlie Williams and the North Pole is his sprawling, brightly lit front yard filled with thousands of lights, Christmas-themed scenes, and whimsical inflatables.

“I’ve been creating this every season since 2011,” said Williams, “except for last year because of the pandemic.”

This year’s holiday landscape boasts 14,600 bulbs on 143 light strands, 65 inflatables and other characters, 19 signs, 78 candy canes, and assorted decorated trees and shining stakes. Holiday music creates a festive atmosphere throughout the ¼-acre yard.

“It’s become bigger over the years,” Williams said. “Decorating our yard was a family tradition, and some of this stuff is from my childhood.”

Williams keeps the tradition alive in honor of his grandparents, who are among several people named on a sign stating the decorations are dedicated to their memories.

The venue is open to guests 6-9 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays through Dec. 19, weather permitting. Santa Claus greets visitors and offers complimentary hot cocoa, coffee and candy canes. Photos with Saint Nick are also free.

Visitors are asked to park along S. Auburn St., enter through the big field gate, and stay on pathways delineated by light strands.

Viewed from the street, the scene is lighted and music plays 6-9 p.m. nightly through Dec. 19.

It takes Williams about 55 hours to create his winter wonderland each year. Sometimes he receives help from some of his five children and fiancé Katra Robinson. The couple plans to marry in May.

The family’s electric bill tops $500 during the four weeks while Christmas lights are blazing. Donations help offset some of that.

The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t the only reason Williams didn’t produce the “North Pole on South Auburn” last year. He also struggled with health concerns and was diagnosed with a heart condition.

In 2018, after vandals destroyed all the lighting on Williams’s fence along S. Auburn St., Williams vented his frustration on social media, and hundreds of people rallied and urged him to continue his efforts. Some donated lights to replace those that were vandalized.

“It has sometimes been a rough road, but it’s time once again to see those happy smiling faces from families who always look forward to seeing these lights,” said Williams. “I hope everyone enjoys them as we make our way out of this pandemic. I want to thank everyone who comes out, because they have inspired me to keep it going.”

Lorraine Jewett is a freelance writer who lives in Nevada County. She can be reached at


WHAT: “North Pole on South Auburn” by Charlie Williams

WHERE: 632 S. Auburn St., Grass Valley

From the street: 6-9 p.m. tonight through Sunday, Dec. 19

Santa Claus visits and venue opens to the public: 6-9 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 19

Christmas 5: Charlie Williams dedicates his “North Pole on South Auburn” to his grandparents, Gene and Patricia Hughes, and other loved ones who have passed away.
Photo by Lorraine Jewett
After weeks of work, the Williams family shows off their “North Pole on South Auburn.” Standing left to right are seven-year-old Lily, four-year-old Gracie, eight-year-old Nevaeh, 14-year-old Abbie, two-year-old Ryker, fiancé Katra Robinson and self-proclaimed Santa Claus Charlie Williams.
Photo by Lorraine Jewett
In this photo from October, the Williams family stands in their bare front yard, with only a North Pole sign foreshadowing the winter wonderland to come.
Photo by Lorraine Jewett
The “North Pole on South Auburn” at 632 S. Auburn St. is open to guests 6-9 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 19, weather permitting.
Photo by Lorraine Jewett
Inflatables and other characters adorn the Williams family’s front yard.
Photo by Lorraine Jewett
It takes Charlie Williams about 55 hours to create this winter holiday wonderland each year.
Photo by Lorraine Jewett
Charlie Williams, who decorates his sprawling front yard so others can enjoy an elaborate holiday scene, also poses as Santa Claus on weekend nights. Santa greets visitors and offers complimentary hot cocoa, coffee and candy canes.
Photo by Lorraine Jewett


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