Pizza, presents and paint: Adding a few new faces and a selfie wall to Candy Cane Lane

Cowabunga Christmas, dudes!

Move over, Frosty, Santa and Grinch—a pack of lean, mean and green pizza fanatics have taken up residence on Candy Cane Lane, courtesy of residents Simon Turner and Ami Dykstra, and Edmonton artist AJA Louden. 

You’ll find a colourful mural of Michelangelo, Donatello, Leonardo and Raphael, better known as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, on the corner of 93rd Avenue and 148th Street.

Colourful, funny and exciting 

Turner and Dykstra moved into the Crestwood community late last year, so they only had time to throw up some lights. This Christmas, the couple wanted to do something a little less traditional and a bit more memorable—especially since pedestrians can walk along Candy Cane Lane again. They weren’t allowed in 2020, due to COVID-19 protocols.

“There are so many houses on the block that have great themes and go all out and we wanted to add to that,” Turner says. “We wanted to think of something unique that nobody else had done before and something I cared about when I was a kid, ‘cuz I know a lot of kids come through here. I picked the Ninja Turtles. It was my favourite cartoon as a kid. It was always colourful, funny and exciting. The toys were great, the movies were great, the cartoons are still great.”

Simon Turner talks about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in an interview with Transforming Edmonton.

“I love everything about the Ninja Turtles”

Turner turned to one of Edmonton’s most prolific artists, AJA Louden, to bring the crime-fighting Turtles to life. ”I’ve followed (AJA) on Instagram and social media vicariously for years and I think he does great work in the community,” says Turner.

Louden’s art adorns everything from LRT stations to schools to businesses in Edmonton (and across Alberta). He jumped at the chance to add some of his childhood heroes to the iconic neighbourhood. 

“I love everything about the Ninja Turtles,” he says. “I like how they’re fun and the idea is so weird and surreal and (the show) became such a pop-culture hit. I like how the Turtles have crazy individual personalities. Donatello is my favourite Turtle—big nerd, creative, innovative.” 

Louden spent hours planning and researching classic Turtles comics and cartoons from the ‘80s and ‘90s. He estimates it took him about 24 hours and “dozens and dozens” of cans of spray paint to complete the mural freehand.

AJA Louden spray paints the finishing touches on his mural. Photo courtesy AJA Louden Studios.

Find the Easter eggs 

Turner says he’s “blown away” by the results. He loves Louden’s attention to detail—the artist included several Easter eggs in the mural, featuring nods to the Turtles and Turner’s family. “It way exceeded every expectation that I had,” says Turner. 

“We sort of chatted very briefly about the general idea of it but (AJA) came up with everything on his own and it’s just so much better than I could have ever dreamed. We’ve seen people already stopping and taking selfies. People seem excited about it, so that’s fun.” 

Louden is excited to be part of such a beloved Edmonton institution. Candy Cane Lane began in 1968 when five families in Crestwood started making Christmas decorations for their homes. The cane-shaped lane now extends from 92nd Avenue to 99th Avenue.

AJA Louden poses with his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles mural on Candy Cane Lane.

The gift of community

“One of the things I love about Candy Cane Lane is its celebratory, festive spirit and I think it’s one of those things that brings community together,” says Louden. “People come and check the space out together and really get to enjoy that as a group. I think that’s something important, especially at a time like right now for us to be able to come back together.”  

Candy Cane Lane runs from December 10 to January 1, 2022. Edmontonians can visit on foot or by car. (Note: The evenings of December 12 and December 19 are dedicated to pedestrians as part of two walk nights sponsored by Winter City Edmonton.) Remember to wear masks and, where possible, maintain physical distancing of two metres apart. 

Please bring a donation to Edmonton’s Food Bank—collection bins will once again be available. 
Editor’s note: the pic at the top of the post shows artist AJA Louden in his studio, working on his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles mural for Candy Cane Lane. Photo courtesy AJA Louden Studios.