By Jeanne Sager
SULLIVAN COUNTY December 23, 2003 Rudolph should have some help guiding Santas sleigh through Sullivan County this year.
A longstanding community tradition will once again be celebrated on Christmas Eve, with folks from Hankins to Wurtsboro setting out Luminaria.
Gallon jugs ballasted with sand and filled with a candle light the way down the countys roadways.
The project got off the ground more than 20 years ago when, in 1982, Hankins residents Jill and Charlie Pinder decided to line their front lawn with sandwich bags filled with sand and a small 15-hour candle.
The lights were just a way to get into the holiday spirit and make their home look a little more festive, Charlie said, but the idea spread like wildfire or maybe candlelight. Soon the Pinders neighbors in the Town of Fremont began helping set out candles along the roadsides near Hankins.
Each year the project got a little bigger, with new folks agreeing to take on different roads in the area. And when the Pinders were unable to head up the project themselves, George and Barbara Hahn of Jeffersonville were up to the task, taking over the planning stages in 1992.
The Hahns stepped aside this year, handing over the reins to Gene Diskin and the rest of the Jeffersonville Area Chamber of Commerce.
It just sort of brings the whole community together and makes everyone focus on the holidays and the great beauty of the area, said Diskin, who started noticing the Luminaria when he moved to Sullivan County full-time five years ago to run the Sunrise House Bed and Breakfast with wife Anita.
It joins everyone together in a special way, he continued. I just hope we can continue it we need new blood.
That new blood has been infused in part in other areas throughout the county where groups and individuals willingly took up the call to light the way for Santas sleigh.
Heres a short list of planned Luminaria, but keep on the lookout for other impromptu lightings throughout the county:
Town of Bethel
The fairy lights will be set up around Smallwood Lake, on Fairweather Road and from 17B through White Lake, down West Shore Road and around to the Woodstock site on Hurd Road.
Town of Callicoon
Diskin and his band of eager volunteers will set up a large area of illumination throughout the Village of Jeffersonville, up Willy Avenue and the Callicoon Center Road.
More lights are expected to shine on the main road through Callicoon Center, and lights will line part of Hessinger-Lare Road and along Route 52 in Youngsville, turning to head up toward Shandelee.
Town of Cochecton
Lights will lead motorists down Bernas Road this year, with a few jugs on Shortcut Road and Devils Road.
Town of Delaware
Some of the Diskin crews lights will stretch into the Town of Delaware with a line of jugs along the Jeff-North Branch Road and up County Road 164 toward the Villa Roma.
Folks in Kenoza Lake will set up more lights along Old Taylor Road, Fulton Hill, Swiss Hill Road and Route 52.
More lights can be seen near the Holy Cross Church on Route 97 in Callicoon and throughout the hamlet itself. Some are expected to be set up along River Road as well.
Town of Liberty
Several streets throughout Liberty will be lit up this Christmas Eve including parts of Cold Spring Road, Dwyer Avenue, Eagle Drive, New Street and Upper Ferndale Road.
Town of Lumberland
The Pond Eddy United Methodist Church will be setting up lights along Berme Church Road again this year, as long as the weather holds out.
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Other lights are sure to be set out in other places around the county, so keep your eyes peeled.
Because of accidents in the past, drivers are asked to make sure they keep their headlights on when driving along the Luminaria routes to make it a safer holiday experience.
Volunteers can show up at any of the planned spots to help with decorating, and those in the Jeff area can call Gene Diskin at 482-5099.