By Ray Balogh
LEESBURG — About 1,500 luminaria will make their traditional appearance along the brick streets around Leesburg on Saturday, Dec. 12, according to Christina Archer, vice president of the Leesburg Town Council, who is spearheading this year’s event.
The luminaria will be lit by dusk and, weather permitting, will be placed around town and along SR 15. “On a good night, they will last until 10 or 11 p.m.,” said Archer. “We always place them at least along the main streets in town and we will set out as many as we can. The only place that is questionable is along 15, depending on the weather.”
Accompanying the display of the paper lanterns will be a town Christmas party from 6 to 8 p.m. in the old firehouse located at the corner of Pearl and Van Buren streets.
Cookies and hot chocolate will be served to revelers in accordance with COVID safety guidelines. “Our servers will wear gloves and masks and hand out the food and drinks. It is a reasonably safe way to handle the situation, the same way restaurants do,” said Archer, adding, “The old firehouse is a good-sized building so people can socially distance and it has good ventilation.”
Although Santa Claus will not make a personal appearance this year, kids will be invited during the party to write their own letter to Santa and receive a bag of goodies.
“Santa Claus will send them back a letter before Christmas,” promised Archer. “He has some very nice local elves.”
The luminaries will be assembled Wednesday, Dec. 9, by a group of volunteers. A plastic container is set into a small paper bag, filled with “a pound or so” of sand, with a candle placed in the center.
“The combination of having the container and the sand works pretty well,” said Archer. “The candles are made of long-lasting paraffin and typically last about six hours.”
She said, “The 4-H and Boy Scouts help put them out and light them. We have one of the biggest 4-H groups in the area and quite a few Boy Scouts and a lot of young people in the community whose parents are willing to have them come out. They get everything done in about 1 1/2 hours.”
Archer thanked the local merchants for “supporting this through advertising” and noted, “Maple Leaf Farms has provided some of the funding in the past and is doing so again this year. We are keeping the tradition as best we can, given the circumstances this year.”
She urged people to at least “get in your car and drive around town. We hope people get to come and enjoy something for Christmas.”
For more information, call Archer at (574) 453-4961 or the town office at (574) 453-3315.