Candles will be aglow, Santa will be on hand, and there will be wagon rides, open shops, treats and a community Christmas service when the Leesburg Lions Club presents its 31st annual Luminaria event Sunday, Dec. 8.
The event was initiated by the Lions Club in 1989 and current club president Jay Newland said, “It’s just a way to bring the community together and celebrate the spirit of Christmas.”
Newland said local residents who have purchased luminary kits are asked to light them around 5 p.m. Sunday. She said the candles should last most of the night.
In the event of rain, Leesburg residents are asked to light the candles on Christmas Eve.
The kits include 20 candles and 20 white paper bags to place the candles in. The kits cost $8 each and are available at Square One Heating & Cooling in Leesburg from 3-7 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Sand will be available to weight the bags down.
There will be two decorating contests for Leesburg area residents using the luminary kits in their displays — one for those living inside the village, and the other for residents living outside the village but within the Fairfield Local School District. The winners each receive $50. Newland said those wanting to be judged for the contest should let someone know when they pick up their luminary kits.
Several businesses in the village will be open from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Newland said many of them will be offering raffles or treats like hot chocolate, cookies, donuts, soda, popcorn or pizza treats.
During those same hours, Santa Claus will make an appearance in town and kids can visit with him at Square One Heating & Cooling on Main Street.
At 5:45 p.m., the winners of a sixth-grade essay contest, about what the Luminaria event means to them, will be announced at the Leesburg Branch Library. Newland said there will be a king, queen, prince and princess. All Fairfield sixth-graders are offered a chance to enter the contest, which is judged by FHS senior English students. The winners receive a medallion at the library and are then escorted to a wagon ride through the village to look at the lights.
Newland said essay winners have been selected all 30 previous years, but records have been misplaced. To help formulate a list, she said there will be a display at one of the participating businesses where people can fill in the names of past winners.
There will be three wagons offering free rides from 5:30 to 7:15 p.m. The pick-up and drop-off location for the rides is Square One Heating.
“So you can stop by and visit Santa before or after your ride around the village,” Newland said.
The evening will be topped off by an annual community Christmas service at 7:30 p.m. at the Friends Church on Church Street, where the contest winners will read their essays.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.