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Lighting the Way

By Jeanne Sager
SULLIVAN COUNTY — December 21, 2004 – Tradition will burn bright this Christmas Eve in Sullivan County.
Although a lack of volunteers has limited the number of planned Luminaria this holiday, there will still be candles lining roadways around the county to lead Santa to the homes of every good little girl and boy.
The Luminaria are a 22-year-old custom in Sullivan County, begun in 1982 by Hankins residents Charlie and Jill Pinder.
The couple lined their Town of Fremont property with small candles propped in sandwich baggies filled with sand.
Their idea of sharing the holiday spirit with the entire neighborhood caught on – a few years later, impromptu lights began popping up in other communities throughout the county.
Folks found that milk jugs would better protect the fragile lights from the weather, and they found long-burning candles that could last into the wee hours of Christmas morn.
These days, neighbors collaborate to turn their community into a festival of lights in time for the holiday – one family collects milk jugs in the garage while the folks up the street buy bags of candles in bulk.
In the witching hours of Christmas Eve, they begin setup, spacing the jugs out along the stretches of road near their homes and out into the wilderness.
“I don’t know how much of a tradition it is, but people love it,” said Art Flynn, one of the folks who will be setting out lights along Route 97 in Callicoon this year.
“I know I always liked it when they did it in Hankins, and I’ve tried to bring it here,” he said.
The biggest problem is the volunteers – this year he and wife Sandy will be out on the road with Roger Widmann setting out jugs. Longtime Callicoon Luminaria Chair Skip Mudge threw in the towel this year – he couldn’t find enough help.
It’s the same all over – Evelyn Haas said she just hasn’t gotten the phone calls to her home in Liberty this year like she has in years past.
But those who will brave the cold this year to set out the lights, and again the next day to bring them in, say it’s worth it.
“If we keep going, maybe we can get it back the way it was,” Flynn said.
Here’s a list of Luminaria that have been planned this year, but be sure to keep your eye out for other communities shining a light on the holiday spirit.
Town of Bethel
Lights will twinkle along Pine Grove Road in Smallwood this year, winding with the road a mile toward the lake.
Another set of Luminaria will take you from the Bethel Town Square in Kauneonga Lake down to West Shore Road, twisting toward the Woodstock site.
Town of Callicoon
The folks in Youngsville won’t disappoint this year, setting out jugs along Hessinger and Lare Road, from Route 52 in the hamlet toward Eagin Road.
Others are expected along Route 52 in Jeffersonville.
Town of Cochecton
A lack of volunteers has hindered plans to line Route 52 in the town with jugs, but Michael Attianese is still looking for volunteers to light the way around Lake Huntington and all the way to the Town of Tusten line. To lend a hand, give him a call at 932-7889.
Other lights will be set up on Pinewood and Buff roads in the town.
Town of Delaware
A short line of jugs will light Route 97 from the blinking light in Callicoon to the Viaduct, running in front of the United Methodist Church.
Town of Fremont
In the town where Luminaria got their start, there are bound to be several spots where you can view the lights. Your best bet is right on the main drag – County Route 95 through Obernburg.
Town of Liberty
A number of neighborhoods within the village will be setting out lights.
Town of Neversink
The folks on Hastings Drive always make the holidays a little brighter with their community light display.
Town of Rockland
The Beaverkill Road will be bright with candlelight from the intersection with Old Route 17.
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Motorists are reminded to use caution – a lack of forethought can make this holiday tradition a holiday tragedy. The Luminaria are not a substitute for headlights, which should remain in the “on” position at all times.

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