What began in 1976 with just the 20 homeowners who lived in the Stone Ridge area then, was a hopping holiday event Saturday night, with blocks and blocks of streets lined with the decorative candle-lit paper bags, and slow parades of cars driving by to take in the scene.
It started with the Scott family, who moved to Stone Ridge from New Mexico, where luminaria displays are the tradition. According Anne Sauerbrey, on an afternoon in December that first year, the women of the neighborhood, along with their young children, got together to fold their bags. They were told the bags were to be folded three times, in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost. They learned that the luminaria was used in Mexican tradition to light the way for the Christ child.
Over the years, a committee was formed and they buy all the supplies and re-sell them to the neighbors. Any extra money collected, along with additional donations, is donated to the East Greenwich Human Services Food Basket program. Last year, according to Cindy Kelly, they were able to contribute $1,140 to the basket program.
This year, Mathews Oil - which provides oil to several houses in the neighborhood - heard about the donation and decided to contribute too.
"I was pleased to be present today when Jim Mathews presented a check to the EG Human Services Food Basket program in the amount of $1080!" said Kelly. That's in addition to monies raised by the residents themselves.
"We have all our neighbors connected through an email address list, so the information goes out to all homes, old and new," explained Kelly. "We have a network of street representatives who help to collect orders and distribute the candle kits to the homes that have ordered. This is a huge neighborhood effort!
"The Luminaria Tour is a gift to the community, a tradition that families look forward to driving through year after year to see the holiday decorations and thousands of luminaries."
If you missed it this year, we snapped some pictures. And, Stone Ridge residents, if you have any photos you'd like to share, please add them here!