The 34th annual Leesburg Luminaria will once again take place Sunday evening, Dec. 10.
“Take heed all young men and women in the Leesburg. Perhaps your essay about the meaningful Leesburg Luminaria was selected and you were a member of the royal court when you were a sixth grader,” a news release said. “Perhaps it was you who was escorted around the village and read your essay at the church service. You might consider that you and your acquaintances could be the future members of the Lions Club who sponsor this event.
“And why? The Lions Club International focuses on helping secure sight to people all over the world. Previously used glasses are collected and sent to those who would not otherwise have them. How appropriate to celebrate sight with the lighting of candles and enjoying the open houses as friends browse the ‘Friendly Village.’”
“What a novel idea,” was the thought of Leesburg Lions Club members Chester Newland and Richard Kisamore back in 1989 when the event originated. “And church services alternating in the different churches could culminate the evening with the royalty reading their essays.”
As the years passed, more and more downtown businesses opened on luminaria night. Visitors toured the lighted streets and enjoyed refreshments at the open houses. Tractor and wagon rides were added. Memories can be told of a teen with a broken leg who found a crutch just good enough that he would not have to miss luminaria.
Thanks to just a few remaining Leesburg Lions Club members, the event is under way again this year. Anyone interested in becoming a member can contact Jay Newland at 937-661-5984.
Candle kits are available for $7 at Saucy Sisters Pizza. Kim Pavey has been helping with the selling the candles.
Residences and businesses will light their candles in the bags on the evening of the event, and open houses will run 5:30 to 7 p.m.
Winners of the essay contest will be crowned as luminaria royalty at 5:45 p.m. at the Leeesburg library.
Santa will arrive at 5:30 p.m. at the firehouse on South Street. Note that this is a new location.
Wagon rides will begin and end at the lot in Leesburg adjacent to the Southern Hills Community Bank.
At 7:30 p.m., the Leesburg Church of Christ will host the evening’s service with the king, queen, prince and princess reading their luminaria essays.
Nellda Friend is a Leesburg area resident and a former reporter for The Times-Gazette.