With all the houses and neighborhoods listed in our holiday-light roundup, it was guaranteed we’d miss a few. For instance, the area bordered by Fruit and West and Sierra and Bullard avenues in central Fresno.
The holiday lights here are quaint when compared to the twinkling-wonderland that is Christmas Tree Lane or the massive light-explosion of Clovis’ Cindy Lane. But for more than 30 years, the homes, sidewalks and medians of the neighborhood have been softly lit with luminarias on Christmas eve.
These paper lanterns, weighted with sand and illuminated by votive candles, are popular in southwest states like New Mexico and traditionally are laid out in rows to create large, elaborate displays. In Christian religions, they are left to guide the spirit of the Christ child to one’s home.
The effect is simple and powerful, says Dolores Monahan, who started the tradition on her block in 1981. As a bonus, PG&E isn’t involved, she says.
Monahan picked up the tradition from her mother and has set out lumanarias in every neighborhood she’s lived. She’s has never counted the number of houses that take part in the lighting each year, and says different parts of the community organize in different ways. She does know there can be more than 1,000 candles burning on her street alone.
The candles will be lit at sundown Christmas eve and will burn through the night.
Then, take a tour, come back and let us know what you think.