LEESBURG — The Leesburg Candelaria and town Christmas party will be 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9. The party will be held in the Leesburg Town Hall building with free cookies and hot beverages, ready to warm up those who drove through the streets to admire the candelaria. Christmas carols will be sung, accompanied by a piano, to warm up the vocal chords and holiday spirit. Santa will arrive by fire truck at 6:30 p.m., ready to listen to Christmas wishes.
Leesburg Mighty Farmers 4-H Club, the local Boy Scouts troop, United Methodist Church and members of the community will meet at the town hall at 4 p.m. to start setting out the candle lanterns, giving them time to finish before it becomes too dark. Volunteering has introduced people to others and sparked new friendships between people who might not have otherwise met.
“As Scoutmaster it brings me great joy to see Scouts interact with the community in such a positive way,” said Ryan Coverstone of Leesburg Troop 729. “Helping set up the candelaria has become a part of my holiday tradition. My son and I look forward to it every year. The feeling you get looking down the street as darkness falls is such a blessing. It’s a great event and I encourage everyone to be a part of it.”
For a time the event stopped but it was reignited after Christina Archer moved back to the area and spoke to Sue Charlton, her neighbor, about starting it up again. Disappointed in seeing one of her favorite memories no longer continuing, she pulled the community together to begin it again.
“It’s a delight to give other families and children the opportunity to have fond memories,” expressed Archer. “It’s extremely rewarding to see people enjoy it around the town. These kinds of events are what hold and bring us together as a community. The first couple years in starting it up again were difficult because we had to find people to help and learn the best way to do it, but I’m so happy I stayed with it and didn’t throw in the towel. Each year has become better than the last.”
There are 1,000 to 1,300 lanterns set out, lighting up the streets of Leesburg where some people may stumble across the event by accident. So long as the weather is cooperative the lanterns will stay lit until almost midnight. While the event may not draw in hundreds of people, it’s still dear to the community.
“It’s a lot of fun and a great tradition that dates to many years back, well before I moved to town,” commented Pastor Mike Beezley. “Christina Archer was very instrumental in bringing back this treasured tradition. She heads it up and works very hard to prepare for this night that we all look forward to.”