Effort underway to organize Christmas Eve luminary display in Ludington.

December 15, 2020

Effort underway to organize Christmas Eve luminary display in Ludington.

LUDINGTON – As COVID-19 has taken away much of this year’s festivities, a few Ludington locals all shared a similar idea, which was not to let the pandemic steal the little joys of the holiday season.

Barbara Cooley, along with Ludington City counilor Angela Serna, both had an idea about bringing a bit of holiday spirit back to the streets of Mason County. Serna, brought the idea of bringing back Christmas Eve luminaries at a recent city council meeting and at the same time, Cooley had been organizing a luminary display for her own neighborhood, with hopes it would catch on around town.

“I had already started organizing a luminary display in our neighborhood here in the Stearns Park area and had already created a private Facebook page that I was calling ‘Ludington Luminaria’ in the hopes that one day the initiative might spread citywide,” Cooley said. “Then, the other day as I was finishing up a letter to our neighbors about the luminaria, my husband mentioned that the subject had come up at the city council meeting a night or two earlier. So, I contacted city manager, Mitch Foster to make sure I wasn’t stepping on any toes and then commented on Angela’s post in the Concerned Locals (Ludington) Facebook page.”

Cooley and Serna corresponded and got the ball rolling and within a few days, Cooley’s Facebook page had hundreds of followers excited to participate in the project.

“The minute I pointed people to my page they began joining, but Angela thought it was really important for the page to be public and I agreed,” Cooley said. “But I couldn’t change it to a public page (Facebook restriction) so, I re-created the page as a public one and moved everyone over. This started a few nights ago and we already have well around 250 members and it’s growing rapidly. There is such a hunger in people for something beautiful, exciting and even kind of magical to get involved in and so many have such wonderful memories of when this was done years ago. It’s also a very emotional response in people, filling a need to feel more connected in this socially-distanced time of quarantine. We can’t hug our family, friends and neighbors but we can light some candles, rather than curse the darkness as the old adage goes. So, I think it’s guaranteed to be a success.”

Serna couldn’t agree more, and she is excited about the project coming back to the streets as well.

“Recently, local law enforcement and fire departments did a light show appreciation for heath care workers at Spectrum Hospital and I thought doing something in the city for the kids and families would be a great thing to do because of COVID, everyone is feeling down and not much in the Christmas spirit. I remembered how years ago we would line the streets with luminaries, and it was toted as a runway for Santa’s sleigh on Christmas eve. I thought it would be great to bring that back to the city and help bring the community together doing something that everyone can enjoy.”

Information about participating can be found on Facebook under “‘Ludington Luminaria.” Basically, everything residents need to know about setting up luminaries, what materials make good luminaries, time frame, etc. is all described on the page.

Taking the idea one step further, Serna met with Ludington and Scottville Area Chamber of Commerce president Brandy Miller about possibly making the event a fundraiser for the Ludington High School Business Professionals of America (BPA) group as well.

“The BPA club at LHS will be the selling the kits, in packages of 10,” Serna said. “This will be a fundraising opportunity for these kids who are unable to do any real fundraising this year because of COVID. Tentatively, the kits will be able to be picked up at an outside location within the city and they are looking at the weekend before Christmas. Brandy Miller at the chamber will be working with the city and the BPA class to put out a flyer with information on this.”

If for nothing more than to spread a bit of holiday cheer on Christmas Eve, both Cooley and Serna are excited to see this project come together for the community and they hope it sparks interest in other communities as well, especially this year because all the cancelled events surrounding COVID-19, this is still something people can get out and participate in.

“This has been such a rough year for all of us around the world and, I think, especially here in the U.S.,” Colley said. “We’ve been so divided politically and then we’ve been locked in this life and death struggle with COVID with so much loss of life and health, and of course the economy has been so devastated. Many of us can’t even be with our families this holiday. People have lost jobs, businesses, livelihoods, loved ones, and social connections. There’s been so much uncertainty and loss and this holiday in particular, I think we need a way to connect with our neighbors, our friends and families, and our community in a meaningful way. What better way than through a holiday display of warm, soft light that signals faith in and hope for the future.”

Serna added that she hopes that this will be the first of many years to come that communities join together in something special for the holidays.

“I think it’s very important with everything that’s gone on this year,” she said. “I hope that even with such short notice, neighbors will get involved and all feel like they’re part of a community, even though we have continued to be distanced from each other right now. Hopefully, this is something that we can continue to do every year, not just for the community, but as a fundraising effort for the BPA students. I just think that we need a little something to brighten the holidays up for everyone in the city. We’ve all had a difficult year regardless if you are a heath care worker, frontline employee, stay at home mom/dad, server, business owner, etc. The younger kids have had a hard time with this as well and I think this is something that they would like to see.”

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