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Luminaries at Ligonier Diamond spread warmth, remembrance, tradition

Rebecca Ridinger | for the Ligonier Echo
Second Chapter Books owner and luminary chairwoman Laurie McGinnis, along with friend, Denise Glover, prepare to distribute the luminary lanterns along the sidewalks.

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By Rebecca Ridinger
Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

There are few things quite as simple as the warm glow of candle light to help kindle the enchantment of the holiday season, and the annual Christmas luminary project, sponsored by the Ligonier Valley Chamber of Commerce, brings to life this homey spirit.

Each holiday season, in coordination with the lighting of the Ligonier Diamond, luminated containers are placed on the sidewalks outside of local merchant shops during weekend evenings, lining the town's streets with a cornucopia of parallel incandescence.

“This tradition has lasted eons,” laughed chairwoman of the luminary lighters and owner of Second Chapter Books Laurie McGinnis. “It's so beautiful. We are very lucky to have what we have. When you look up the street and see those lights, there is something very charming about that.”

To some, the radiance holds a magnitude of significance. Some non-retail residents of Main Street are also taking part this year. Luminary customs such as this stretch from China to South America, and, evidently to Ligonier. Some age-old theories to the beginnings of the luminary brightness include a vehicle for which children could light the way to spiritual guidance or for the arrival of Santa Claus. For many, the soft ebb acts as a homage to the memory of a loved one passed.

Behind Ligonier's own cozy amber blush are also the volunteers. This year including members of the Valley Youth Network, the Chestnut Ridge 4-H Club and six individuals, who take the time to bring in the lights each weekend evening at 8 o'clock.

“We had families who said they'd like to help,” said 4-H organizational leader Amy Andrews. “The lights have been there for years — they really add that little extra touch.”

Youth Valley Network intern Elizabeth Ashy testified to the brilliance, and Yuletide assistance, as well.

“I've done this since high school,” Ashy explained. “It's really awesome what Ligonier does each year for the Christmas season. We have a large group of students who don't mind to come out in the cold — they love it.”

Rebecca Ridinger is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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