Horton’s annual Festival of Lights Christmas Luminarias, set for 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 1, is sponsored by the South Brown County Ministerial Association (SBCMA).
In 1991 an annual Christmas tradition began in Horton with the first Festival of Lights Christmas Luminarias, which continues to this day, always on the first Sunday in December. In Horton’s Festival of Lights, each scene conveys the message of God’s love as shown through the life of Jesus Christ from his earthly birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension.
What began as a one-year experiment was so well received that it has continued and is now in its 28th year. The Luminaries stem from an old Spanish custom of putting candles in paper bags weighted with sand. The candles are lit and put along the path to one’s home on Christmas Eve to light the way for the Christ child to come into the home and into the lives of the people who live there.
In Horton, 1,300 candles light the 10-block route, which will have 17 living tableaus of representative times in the life of Christ. The people of area churches dress in biblical clothes and form still pictures — or tableaus — from the prophecy in Isaiah about the coming of Christ, to His crucifixion and ultimately, His ascension into heaven. Colorful costumes, music, back drops designed by the churches and even live animals are part of the scenes along the way.
The city of Horton turns off the street lights in the area so the luminaries are even more pronounced. It is a beautiful, peaceful display, which people can enjoy from the comfort and privacy of their own vehicles. A free shuttle service is offered as well, starting at Jim’s Thriftway, 240 East 15th, which will take participants through the 14 blocks of luminaries. The route begins at 14th and Central and ends at 14th and First Avenue East. A route guide, which provides information about each scene, will be handed out at the beginning of the drive.
Participants are asked to stay in vehicles, so as not to distract the characters in the scenes and for safety purposes.
The churches in the South Brown County Ministerial Association include the First Baptist Church of Horton, First United Methodist of Horton, St. Leo’s Catholic of Horton, the United Church of Muscotah, Everest Christian and Zion Lutheran of Everest. President of the Association is Dr. Ronald Lee Cobb of the First Christian Church of Horton.
The Ministerial Association also asked residents who live along the route or on connecting side streets to keep their own Christmas lights turned off that evening, during the time of the Luminiaries, so the impact of the scenes will be more vivid.
The Luminaries is a free event, however donations to the Ministerial Association are appreciated. Those can be made at the end of the route and any funds donated will support the ministries of the SBCMA.
In case of inclement weather, the event may be cancelled. Please listen to KNZA (103.9 FM). It is suggested that people who are traveling from a distance call if the weather is questionable. Contact the Horton First United Methodist Church at (785) 486-2349.