'A real dynamo'
Former Christmas Tree Lane Association President, activist Jan Jouanicot dies
Janis Farley Jouanicot, a longtime Altadena resident instrumental in preserving the area’s Christmas Tree Lane as a designated California State Landmark, died Sunday night at Arcadia Methodist Hospital after a decades-long struggle with heart and lung complications. She was 66.
Throughout the 1990s, until she and husband Max both stepped down from their tenure with the Christmas Tree Lane Association (CTLA) in 2003 due to failing health, Jouanicot worked to recruit volunteers, replant trees and maintain the electrical infrastructure of the deodar trees along Santa Rosa Avenue, between Woodbury Road and Altadena Avenue.
“She pretty much restored the enthusiasm and participation of neighbors and the community and let the Lane come back,” CTLA board member and neighbor Tony Ward said Monday. “She was a real dynamo. If anybody had nine lives, that was Janis. I’m sure she lived all of those lives, too.”
For the past 92 years, volunteers have decorated the majestic trees, a type of cedar, with multicolored lights officially turned on each December in a tree-lighting ceremony. The celebration includes an arts and craft fair and several food vendors. This year’s event begins at 2 p.m. Saturday, with the lighting to follow at 6 p.m.
Jouanicot, along with former neighbors Tommy Billups and John Ingle, will be commemorated at the ceremony, according to Ward.
Ingle, who died Sept. 16, was known for his role as Edward Quartermaine in the ABC soap opera “General Hospital.”
Jouanicot was president of the association in 2000, when Southern California Edison — which had historically provided the lane with electricity and maintenance — willed its obligations to Los Angeles County in the wake of a statewide utilities deregulation. The street’s electrical grid was deemed unsafe by the county, and the costs to rewire and upgrade systems further threatened the holiday tradition.
But Jouanicot and her associates appealed to the county Supervisor’s office, garnering $130,000 in exchange for compliance with several county codes, Ward said.
“Jan went down to Supervisor [Mike] Antonovich’s office and jumped up and down on his desk,” Ward joked. “Everything has been working pretty smoothly ever since.”
In addition to her duties with CTLA, which included making clever crafts like burnt out Christmas Tree Lane bulb ornaments and bags of “reindeer poop” candy, Jouanicot had worked as a Realtor since 1992. She joined La Cañada Flintridge-based Dilbeck Realtors in 1997. Before her entry into real estate, she owned and operated a trucking company for 16 years.
Jouanicot is survived by husband Maxwell Jouanicot, daughter Shannon Farley and son Dean Farley and by grandchildren Dylan, Sean and Mazie.