The street I grew up on had one neighbor who would coordinate a luminaria each Christmas Eve. This was one of the best nights of the year for me. My best friend and I were the self appointed bag tenders. We did this all night long before going to bed. If a candle blew out, we would go re-light it. Making sure all bags were lit for as long as they could be. The candles always outlasted us. It was a magical night on so many levels. For so many years.
This single event was just one of the many neighborhood events held throughout the year. All coordinated by the same family. Looking back, they really did a great job building a community. The story I remember about this event was this luminaria was Santa’s runway. Fast forward to today, this one little street’s community project is about a 1/2 mile square area of households participating.
I attended a zoom for the Neighborhood Preservation Program for the Arts District. The attendance from the community was abysmal. The program is supposed to be done in concert with the community. The level of participation made it apparent that there is very little community right now. After that call, I made the decision to become that one neighbor from my childhood. To help strengthen my community. Lighting the street was suggested on the zoom, and the luminaria came to my mind.
Light the Pike
The morning after the zoom, I woke up and realized I had time to pull off putting out a luminaria. I could get all the bags, candles and sand. My daughter and I could do this before we head to my sister’s for dinner. Yes, it would cost me some money. For sure, it will take a lot longer with just the two of us. However, the impact it can make and the lesson I can teach her will be worth it.
While waiting for the supplies to arrive, I started building this website. 08012.org Times are different than when that one neighbor would send around hand written notes on index cards. In 2021, I will use a website.
Although I understand asking for help pulling this off is not exactly at the best time, I am still going to ask. I originally wanted to have it be a surprise to anyone driving the pike and seeing it. But I am trying to strengthen my community. Because of this, I would be missing an opportunity to bring people together for a cause.
I don’t have unlimited funds, so I only purchased so many supplies. I am just “winging this”, but I believe I have enough candles and bags to cover from the RiteAid corner down to Meadows Diner on both sides. Below will be what is still needed, in addition to more bags and candles:
- Poster Board & Signs made
- Help before hand folding brown bags and putting sand in bottom
- Help around 3pm-ish Dec 24th to start placing the bags on the curbs (Meet at Harwan Park next to RiteAid)
- Clean-up assistance after Christmas
I have already spoken to the fire department and they are aware. This is not dangerous, but figure I should disclose that I have taken that precaution.
The future of the luminary
Despite being prepared that this year it more than likely will be three or four people putting this together, I am hopeful this will grow. The Blackwood Fire Department throws the parade each year. Followed by Santa on the fire truck. Maybe this can be a continuation of the spirit? I would just like to see neighbors working together. Doing it on the Black Horse Pike helps bring people to the Arts District. Maybe they will walk it by foot and notice a local small business they can support. Maybe they see something that can change or improve and bring the idea to Blackwood Area Revitalization.
If you can help in any way, please contact me HERE