Known as the friendly village, some say it will be all that and more Sunday evening when the Leesburg Lions Club hosts its 28th annual Luminaria on the downtown streets.
There will be free wagon rides, homes and businesses decorated with luminaries, a community church service, a king and queen contest, businesses open past usual hours, and even a warming station.
“Everyone is joyful and friendly and it just brings the community together with a good feeling of enjoying the lights and the whole Christmas season. Generally, the whole town is lit up,” Leesburg Lions Club member Kathy Huff said. “Leesburg is a wonderful town. It has a lot of special people and almost everyone comes out for the Luminaria.”
It all starts at 5 p.m. with the lighting of the luminaries.
Holiday festivities in the downtown area run from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. with treats and fellowship at the following locations: American Legion Post 568, Batter Up Bakery, Crossroads Diner, Dollar General, Leesburg Branch Library, Leesburg United Methodist Church, Leesburg Post Office, Saucy Sisters Pizza, Southern Hills Community Bank and Square One Heating and Cooling.
The warming station will be in the old indoor flea market located on Main Street. Huff said snacks will be provided there, too.
The presentation of the king and queen takes place at 5:45 p.m. at the library. They are selected from candidates in the sixth grade who submitted essays for a contest titled, “What Luminaria Means To Me.” A prince and princess are also recognized.
The wagon rides run from 5:30 to 7 p.m. and take riders around town to view the decorations. They start and end at Square One Heating and Cooling, where Santa Claus will visit with youngsters.
The evening concludes with an 8 p.m. community church service at the Leesburg Friends Church.
There is also a home decorating contest open to all residents in the Fairfield Local School District. The only stipulation is that luminaries that can be purchased from the Lions Club are used as part of the decorations. If you live outside Leesburg and want to enter your home in the contest, call 937-780-7611 or 937-780-6140. The winner receives a $50 prize.
In addition, the block of houses in the village using the most luminary candles will win free luminary kits for next year.
The luminary kits will be available for sale on Friday, Dec. 9, from 4-7 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 10, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Square One Heating for $8 per kit. Each kit includes 20 candles and 20 bags to place the candles in. Those purchasing candles should bring a container for sand that is provided for the bags.
“It is our hope that all residents of Leesburg and Highland will shine the lights of Luminaria to celebrate the real meaning of Christmas,” Huff said.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.