Monday, December 25, 2006


In SESH for several years we had a tradition of having luminaries (luminarios). It looked very nice driving the the streets on Christmas Eve after they were lit. Old Carrollwood has had a long lasting tradition of luminaries.

However the luminary tradition in the neighborhood that former Seminole Heights residents Sondra and Heidi just moved to in Billings Montana is very touching.

From the Billings Gazette
"Tonight, as neighbors have done for 44 years, homeowners on Mariposa Lane will light luminarias, candles in paper bags filled with sand. The candles burn through the night, symbolically lighting the way for the Christ child. But they also flicker in remembrance of a young boy killed in a bicycle accident in December 1962, a boy most of the neighbors now living on the street never knew."
. . .
On Dec. 5, he (Bobby Switzer) and his friend, who also lived on the street, were biking home about dinnertime, after a basketball game at school. The weather was good. Both boys had lights on their bikes. But, while they were at school, someone had flipped on the lights of all the bicycles in the bike rack, leaving them on until the batteries died.Switzer was hit by a car as he crossed 17th Street West, just south of Mariposa Lane. He died from head injuries.
. . .
The Switzers had moved from Albuquerque, N.M., to Billings in February 1960, when Frank Switzer transferred to a position as manager of the J.C. Penney store. The first Christmas in their new home, Bobby decorated their yard with luminarias, a tradition in the Southwest. He used a child's toy wagon to haul sand from the irrigation ditch to fill the brown paper lunch bags.

"I think we kind of introduced the tradition to Billings," said his mother, Marge McFarlane. "As I remember, it was a nice evening, and people came by walking to see what it was."In the aftermath of the accident the next December, neighborhood families set out the luminarias on Christmas Eve as a memorial to Switzer. That first year, they lighted not just the Switzer's house, but five houses on each side of the street. The tiny glow of candles through the 300 brown paper sacks seemed to warm the night's chill.

The child's mother, no longer lives in the neighborhood but allways come to see the luminaries. Only one neighbor is left who knew the family yet the tradition continues.

. . .
"On Christmas Eve, many Billings families take their children on car tours of spectacular Christmas lights displays. The exuberant amperage gets children and adults hyped about the holiday. But the luminarias produce a calm, reflective aura, said Eva Van Arsdale, who moved into the neighborhood in 1967.It's amazing, she said, to see the candles still flickering at daybreak. She views it as a reminder of God's everlasting presence".

Merry Christmas

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