Luminary Sales Begin this Saturday, a Manchester Tradition Continues

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The Manchester Luminaria is entering its 34th year, with sales starting this coming Saturday, the 21st of December. The Lions Club will be selling Luminaria bags from the vacant building on the Northwestern corner of Main Street and M-52 (most recently Riverside Consignment). The sale will run on Saturday the 21st from 9 am to 4pm, Sunday the 22nd from 1pm to 4pm, Monday the 23rd from 1pm to 6pm and then finally on Christmas Eve, Tuesday the 24th from 9am to 4pm.

Main Street along Wurster Park.

Main Street along Wurster Park.

Carl D. Curtis, of the Lions Club, runs the Luminaria project. Curtis offers these details:

“A luminaria unit consists of a white paper bag, some sand to stabilize the bag and provide a bed for the candle, and a 10-hour votive candle. Instructions are provided to assemble the Luminaria units. Luminaria units are sold in multiples of 5. The first ten units are sold for $5 and each additional 5 units are $1.50 more.

“Luminaria are placed in yards near the curb of the road on Christmas eve and lighted at dusk. Recommended spacing of Luminaria is ten feet but some narrow lots may have Luminaria placed closer than ten feet or Luminaria may be placed along driveways or lead walks to the house.

“A data base of street addresses is maintained to help people determine how many Luminaria units to buy based on how many units were purchased for a specific address in the past.”

This lovely Manchester tradition has brightened the way every Christmas Eve since about 1979. The tradition was begun by Karen Hinckley. In the late 1970s, she and her husband John moved to Manchester where they renovated an old house on Ann Arbor Street. The stress of the long renovation (which played out over ten years) sent Karen into a deep depression which she battled with reading and prayer. Finally, she decided to brighten the dark night before Christmas. It was a project that would lift her spirit, and bring her closer to her adopted community.

The first year, she just went door to door asking people if they wanted to have candles in front of their house on Christmas Eve. A 2006 Manchester Historical Society Newsletter tells the rest of the story:

“She felt if people could see one street lighted, it would catch on. Her initial efforts met with a lot of

resistance from people telling her she was crazy to some who flat out said they would not do it. She offered to put them up for those people and they reluctantly agreed to let her.

Luminaria along a curving road.

Luminaria along a curving road.

“Once her plans were laid, she needed to find sources for the bags, candles that would burn at least 4 to 5 hours, and sand. The Village Road Commission graciously let her fill her trailer with sand. The Manchester Art Guild managed the project for six years from the Hinckley’s back porch. They had block and street captains. From those first efforts, it caught on and she realized they could not continue. She was very glad when the Manchester Area Historical Society took it over.

“Forest Walz chaired the luminaria project for many years out of the Blacksmith Shop. In its heyday, there were over 8000 units sold. It has fallen off in recent years, but the Society is hoping it will catch on again. As Hinckley says, “It has been a wonderful thing for Manchester.””

In December 2008, the Lions Club assumed responsibility over the project. Carl Curtis, who had managed the details for Manchester Area Historical Society, now manages it for the Lions Club.


The MAHS Blacksmith Shop, the former long-time home of the Luminaria Sale.

The MAHS Blacksmith Shop, the former long-time home of the Luminaria Sale.

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