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Chamber seeks community volunteers to light luminaria

| Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012, 9:58 p.m.

One hundred and eighty luminarias are set up annually around the Ligonier Diamond and surrounding streets during the holidays. The Ligonier Chamber of Commerce funds the project and many local merchants volunteer to light and store the festive decorations. However, more volunteers are needed to help keep Ligonier aglow this holiday season.

Store owners have agreed to put out and light the luminarias, according to Chamber of Commerce Vice President, Laurie McGinnis. Volunteers are still needed to extinguish the candles at 8 p.m., collect them and carry them to a designated storage area.

McGinnis, owner of Second Chapter Books, has been in charge of the process for the last four years.

“It's been going on for so long,” said McGinnis, who took over the responsibility when the tradition was in danger of disappearing for lack of participation. “I don't want to see the tradition die”.

The luminarias will first be placed for “Santa's Arrival and Diamond Lighting in Ligonier” Nov. 23 and will be lit every Friday and Saturday night through Dec. 22.

Waterford resident Janet Riordan, who is president of Business and Professional Women of Ligonier, has been removing the luminarias with her two granddaughters for several years now, she said.

“We make it a whole event,” Riordan said.

She said Isabella, 15, and Lillian Riordan, 11, of Mt. Pleasant, join her on Thanksgiving Eve. They make cookies and gingerbread houses and the next afternoon visit local Ligonier establishments, such as the Ligonier Sweet Shop. They stay for the arrival of Santa and enjoy the festivities and then help remove the luminarias, said Riordan.

“I love it. And it's so easy; it only takes about 20 or 30 minutes,” Riordan said, “People driving by stop to say thank you and how much they enjoy seeing the luminarias. They're very appreciative.”

Riordan said she will continue the tradition as long as she is able and her granddaughters are willing.

Organizations, such as church youth groups and the 4-H Club, as well as individuals and families, have volunteered to help with the luminaries in the past. Volunteers for this year include the Donegal Centre and the Valley Youth Network, as well as some families who have made volunteering a holiday tradition.

To volunteer to help keep the tradition of Ligonier's luminarias alive, contact Laurie McGinnis at 724-238-7933.

Cami DiBattista is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.