Luminarias' message is clear: Follow the light

December 26, 2001


Follow the light

By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

On Sunday and Monday nights, the message on Sandalwood Drive in El Centro was simple — follow the light to the true meaning of the Christmas season.

And the light was easy to follow.

Luminarias lined both sides of Sandalwood from Fourth Street to Eighth Street.

Wensley and Lenrey avenues in El Centro and others throughout the city and the Imperial Valley also joined in what has become a Christmas tradition for individuals and entire blocks.

Al Terrazas and his wife, Ana, have lived on Sandalwood for 27 years and for most of those years they have seen people on their street light the luminarias.


This year, students from McCabe Union Elementary School and their parents did much of the work of placing the white bags with candles along the street as part of a fund-raising project.

Along with placing the luminarias along the street, the students lighted the candles on Sunday and Monday and will clean the sidewalks after Christmas.

Al Terrazas said it has become a meaningful tradition for his street — one that brings people together.

Martha Dyson, another Sandalwood resident, said she has been lighting luminarias as long as she has lived on the street.

"It is just something we look forward to every year," she said, adding when the luminarias are illuminated, people drive up and down the street and others walk along the sidewalks to enjoy the scene.

Wauline Dannels, who has lived on Sandalwood for about 40 years, cannot remember specifically when people started placing luminarias on the street. She just knows it has been a long time.

She said it is important that the community remember the real meaning of the season and the luminarias are meant to help them do so.

"The meaning is so that they will follow the light," she said.

Lynette Reed has lived on Sandalwood for 17 years. For each of those years she has taken part in the tradition, but the first year she wasn't able to. Seventeen years ago on Dec. 23, she had a baby and didn't come home until Christmas Day.

Like others interviewed, she said the luminarias bring people together.

"It makes our neighborhood come out and talk," she said. "We get reacquainted and meet our new neighbors."

Ada Duflock has been a longtime resident on Sandalwood. She's lived at her house for 35 years and has lived in El Centro for more than 60 years.

Her husband, the late Bill Duflock, founded the Christmas parade in El Centro.

She said her children grew up with the luminarias, as did her grandchildren.

"It's a beautiful thing that inspires the children," she said, adding, "There is a meaning behind Christmas that you need to teach your children."

>> Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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