By Sandra Zunino
For nearly a decade, The Rest, a residential community in Talbot County, has been shedding light on the holidays in the form of a luminaria. This year being no different, the annual luminaria is scheduled to take place on Sunday, December 21 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
In 1999, resident Patti Krogmann and her late husband Charlie started the tradition in the small waterfront community. The luminaria continues as a tribute to Charlie to honor his memory.
Luminarias have long been a tradition in the American Southwest with towns famous for their impressive Christmas Eve luminaria displays. Luminarias first appear historically around the 16th century, as a Spanish tradition of lighting bonfires along the roads and churchyards to guide people to Midnight Mass on the final night of the celebration of Las Posadas, a reenactment of Mary and Joseph’s search for lodging in Bethlehem.
A community effort, residents will place paper bag lanterns along the half-mile winding road of Rest Circle. Lanterns, also called farolitos – the Spanish word for little lanterns, are created by placing candles, stabilized by sand, in paper bags about five feet apart outlining the road and driveways. According to Ronald “Ron” Sasiela, Publicity Chairman, this luminaria is the only one entirely in Talbot County.
In addition to the luminaries, many houses are decorated for the holidays and Santa is expected to visit, passing out candy canes and treats to young visitors. The visit from Santa was suggested by Ron four years ago and soon became part of the tradition.
Well organized, the luminaria committee ensures the luminaria continues along the entire road by adding bags in front of homes that are unable to participate. The reputation for the glowing lanterns has brought people from all over the Eastern Shore and even across the Bay Bridge to enjoy the effect.
“We place a sign at the intersection of Unionville Road and St. Michaels Road about a week ahead of time,” says Ron. Local papers also note the luminaria in event calendars. Ron estimates that several hundred cars drive through the display. “We encourage people to cautiously dim their headlights to allow the luminaries to have a better affect,” he says.
There is no charge for viewing the luminaria. “There is very little cost to put it together,” says Ron, “We’re just doing a charitable service for the community.”
Bringing their own community together, it is part of the tradition for one of the families to hold a get-together potluck at their home the night of the luminaria so neighbors can gather and discusses the year’s activities.
Until last year, the luminaria was held on Christmas Eve. However, as many residents had other obligations, the community voted to move the event to the last Sunday before Christmas. This year’s rain date is Monday, December 22.
The Rest is situated along the Miles River and skirts Chapel Cove. In the 1800s, Admiral Franklin Buchanan, who served as the first Superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy and a ranking officer in the Confederate Navy, resided at this location, which is how The Rest received its unusual name.
To view the luminaria, follow the sign from St. Michaels Road (#33) onto Route 370 toward Tunis Mills. Turn left at the luminaria sign onto Rest Circle . For more information, call Chairperson, Wimp Simpkins at 410-310-2119.