Irvington Luminaria Lights Up Historic Neighborhood

Irvington, a community perhaps better known for its deep and abiding love affair with Halloween, also celebrates the winter holidays with community events and gatherings. The biggest of them is the annual Luminaria, when neighbors light their sidewalks and pathways with candles in bags, and churches offer music and refuge from the busy-ness of the holidays. This year, the Luminaria will be held Sunday, December 17 from 6 p.m.-9 p.m. Visitors are encouraged to drive slowly and carefully through the winding streets to see all the lights. Volunteers around public spaces like Irving Circle and Ellenberger Park will be out helping light the way. Proceeds of the sales of the candle/bag kits at Black Sheep, Ace Hardware on 10th and Arlington, Magic Candle, Jack and Jill’s, Coal Yard Coffee on Bonna Ave., and Deering Cleaners at 10th and Arlington, go to support Irvington projects. Free sand is available at Ellenberger Park parking lot to weight the bags.
To start the eveningoff, Irvington United Methodist Church, 30 N. Audubon, will have a choir concert from 4:30-5:30 p.m. Just a couple of blocks south, Santa will be in Irving Circle Park, 5703 University Ave., where he’ll be parked with his 1890s antique sleigh to pose for pictures with kids, pets, and adults from 6-9 p.m. The Friends of Irving Circle will provide free cocoa and cookies to all. Coal Yard Coffee on Bonna Ave. by Ritter will offer Luminaria Jazz at 6 p.m.
If you and your family are in need of spiritual reflection and quiet prayer, Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, 5333 E. Washington and Irvington Presbyterian, 55 Johnson Ave. will have their doors open to all.
Two wonderful family friendly events will be held within blocks of each other. The Bona Thompson Memorial Center, 5350 University Ave. will be open from 6-9 p.m. with a special Nutcracker exhibition. The Benton House, 312 S. Downey Ave., will  hold an open house from 6-10 p.m., and visitors can see the beautiful decorations inside this historic home.
Way back in 1976, the late Rose Mary Clarke and Lawrence W. Tindall, the Chair and Vice Chair (respectively) of the Community Council, thought up the Luminaria. Based on the Hispanic tradition of lighting candles to light the way of the Christ child, the pair presented the idea as a community event. Volunteers were encouraged to place bags on the sidewalks every three feet (on the cracks). Since then, the event has grown to include hundreds of Irvingtonians of all ages who look forward to lighting up their community, and in reasonably decent weather, welcoming neighbors to winter porch parties.
This year will be the first without Rose Mary, a much-loved columnist for the Weekly View and early visionary for the historic neighborhood. We are certain she’ll be admiring the lights in her beloved Irvington from heaven along with everyone else.