Limestone Christmas Luminaries Set To Return On & Around Campus On December 11

Charles Wyatt
Luminaries 2021

A holiday tradition that goes back over three decades, the Limestone Luminaries event is set to return to the University on Saturday, Dec. 11.

In what would have been the 36th annual Limestone Luminaries, the event was cancelled in 2020 because of changes to last fall’s academic calendar that resulted in students not being on campus to make it possible. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, instead of ending the semester as usual in December, Limestone students returned home during the Thanksgiving break and then completed their final exams online. University officials made the decision to change the academic schedule a year ago to minimize coronavirus exposure on campus and in the community.

Typically, hundreds of Limestone’s student-athletes volunteer to fill, place, and light thousands of white bags containing sand and candles to illuminate the campus and surrounding area as a Christmas celebration.

This year’s luminaries on December 11, 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 University.

“After a one-year absence, we are thrilled that the Limestone Luminaries will be back next month as we celebrate the Christmas season at our University,” said Limestone President Dr. Darrell Parker. “We were saddened that the luminaries could not take place last year, but without our fantastic students here to make it happen, we felt it was appropriate to pause the event.

“We appreciate so much our local residents who come out year after year during the holiday season to enjoy the luminaries on and around our campus,” he added. “We are looking forward to another magical evening on December 11.”

The local tradition dates back to 1984 when the late Les Gregory, a former Limestone staff member and graduate, 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 grown into one of the most anticipated nights of the year at Limestone.

The luminary event is now organized each year by Limestone’s Department of Athletics.

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.

Information will be announced soon regarding a Christmas concert by the Limestone Department of Music that is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 5.