A holiday tradition that goes back over 30 years, the Limestone College Luminaries, will captivate those who visit the campus during its annual Christmas celebration set for Saturday, Dec. 8.
The luminaries, which will be lit by 5 p.m., will be placed on the front campus, and portions of College Drive and other areas near the College for the 34th consecutive year.
The Limestone tradition dates back to 1984 when the late Les Gregory, a former staff member and graduate of the College, arranged for 200 luminaries to be lit in honor of retired professor Lucy G. Wheeler. Since Gregory's inception, the luminaries have grown to over 10,000 candles and the event has evolved into one of the most anticipated nights of the year at Limestone.
The luminary event is now organized each year by Limestone’s Athletics Department, with student-athletes filling the white bags with sand and candles, placing them on and around campus, and lighting the candles.
“This event is a great way to start the Christmas season, and we encourage everyone to come out and enjoy the beautiful candles,” said Limestone Senior Associate Athletics Director Dennis Bloomer. “One of the blessings to come out of this project every year is the involvement of so many of our students who are bringing Christmas joy to the local community.”
The tradition of Christmas luminaries dates back at least to early 17th-century Spain. In one version of how it started, people burned cedar boughs along town paths, symbolically lighting the way to Bethlehem for Mary and Joseph. A slightly different version suggests that luminaries were intended to brighten the way for the Magi. The tradition is a feature of numerous Christmas festivals in the American Southwest.
The Limestone Luminaries will come one day after the City of Gaffney celebrates with its “Christmas On Limestone” event on December 7 that will include a nighttime parade, official tree lighting ceremony, and other activities along Limestone Street from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. The theme for the downtown parade is “Silver Bells: Christmastime in the City.”
There will be no musical performance on the College’s campus at this year’s luminaries event, as has been done in the past.