PORT ANGELES — A string of about 400 luminaries three blocks long marked a holiday path like lights on a snowy tree limb on Christmas Eve.
The square lanterns, about 10 feet apart, were lit Sunday evening by candles anchored in mounds of sand at the bottom of paper lunch bags curled down at the top.
The luminaries were glowing in a softly glowing chain in front of about 20 homes on East Second Street between Chambers and Ennis streets in a neighborhood tradition that goes back four decades.
Former Port Angeles Realty owner Chuck Turner and his family have been taking part in the project every year since 1979, a year after it was started by Judy Tucker and Betsy Robbins.
First time for snow
Snowflakes were falling in the 5:30 p.m. darkness east of downtown Port Angeles.
“It’s the first time we’ve had fresh snow with it,” Turner said.
“It was little bit of a hassle but it sure is pretty.”
Turner inherited leadership of the event, and while in recent years he has stepped back from organizing it, he now has three generations involved in lighting the candles and watching them glow.
His daughter, Emily, son, Brian, and granddaughter, Maci, 5, all take part, said Turner, who moved to Port Angeles in 1970.
“It brings joy to the people that drive by,” Turner said.
“It’s the camaraderie with the neighbors, and it’s really fun to watch all those cars and a lot of people on foot walking with their children.”
Tucker and Robbins brought the tradition with them from Ravenswood, W.Va., a city that drew the idea from a tradition that is strong in Santa Fe, N.M., where residents often interchange the terms luminaries and farolitos, according to www.newmexico.org.
For this year’s event on East Second Street, 1,600 miles north of the country’s oldest state capital, a flier was distributed to neighbors asking them to park their cars away from their homes to provide a clear viewing stage.
Anyone wanting to help place the luminaries was urged to meet at a residence in the 1200 block to prepare the candle-laden bags.
The flier said neighbors who did not want to participate but wanted luminaries placed in front of their homes anyway could arrange to do so.
They were urged to call one of the event organizers.
“You are invited to join our neighborhood Christmas Eve Luminary Tradition,” it said.
“Christmas cookies are always welcome.”
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].