A unique Christmas Eve tradition shines bright in Fresno with the Ellery Way Luminaries

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Every Christmas Eve since 1981, neighbors living along Ellery Way near Fruit and Bullard have gathered to fill paper bags with sand and pick up votive candles.

It is a time to catch up with families and their kids.

"We're the only block where it's like a block party and everybody knows everybody," said Dolores Monahan.

It has been a great way to get to know neighbors and share a little Christmas spirit.

The white paper bags go on for as far as the eye can see on Ellery.

But once it gets dark, families will light the luminaries so everyone can enjoy the candles lighting up the night.

"It's lighting the way for the Christ child."

"It's really lovely to come out when they're all lit in the evening, It's magical. It really is," said Shirley Golden of Fresno.

Dolores Monahan brought this New Mexico tradition to Fresno 37 years ago.

She says she'll be moving out and downsizing next year so her neighbors gave her a fitting farewell gift. A luminary with a reindeer design.

"With a note, 'thank you Dolores for the beautiful luminary tradition. You will always be part of this neighborhood,'" Dolores read.

"In '81 she started doing it with all the neighbors. It's just grown into what it is. It's the whole neighborhood plus all the neighborhoods around us," said Shirley Golden.

Neighbors walk over with wagons and carts to do their part. There are donuts, coffee and pizza. Others drive over to pick up the luminaries.

With several families moving back to the old neighborhood, their kids now continue the tradition of luminary curb side service.

"t's really hard to leave here," Dolores said.

24 families in all are represented on Ellery Way.

Dolores has just one wish this Christmas Eve, "Rain, rain another day."
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