Riverside Avondale Preservation reveals luminaria plans for lighting up historic district

From one man’s simple idea to raise funds for a community organization, the annual Riverside Avondale Preservation luminaria night tradition has grown into an anticipated – some would say dreaded – neighborhood event. This year the event will be held Sunday, Dec. 17, at dusk.

Yes, luminaria night has, over the years, grown into a crowd-drawing event the late Jerry Spinks started decades ago by selling luminaries to his neighbors. Decorated vehicles of all types parade through closed streets, a variety of items are thrown, a la Mardi Gras, to spectators lining the sidewalks, and block parties are held throughout the historic district.

In recent years, an effort has been made to tone down the Mardi Gras-like behavior, and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has kept an eye out for unruliness, and posted pre-event warning signs against riding without seat belts in open vehicles or on flatbed trailers.

RAP has issued a statement that the luminaria night parade is not officially sponsored or hosted by Riverside Avondale Preservation. In fact, this year RAP is making an effort to encourage other sections of Riverside and Avondale to participate in the placing of luminaria on lawns and sidewalks.

“Luminaria is a beautiful night in the neighborhood, enjoyed by our residents and many visitors, and always one of the busiest Sunday nights of the holiday season,” said Allan DeVault, RAP Luminaria chairman. “Purchasing the kits from RAP is easy, inexpensive and helps support the neighborhood. I’d love to see all the businesses and residential districts lit up with more consistency this year.”

If you are interested in sponsoring a park, median, or other green spaces, contact [email protected]

RAP is also working on a map of luminaria night displays and events. To have your event or display included, contact [email protected] or (904) 289-2449 no later than Nov. 22.

This year’s luminaria poster artist is Julie Chambers Fetzer, a vendor at Riverside Arts Market since its inaugural year in 2009.

Luminaria kits

The Revivals, the RAP young professionals group, will host First Friday at the RAP office, Buckland House, 2623 Herschel St., Friday, Dec. 1, 6-8 p.m., for hands-on luminaria kit-making; beverages and holiday cookies provided.

Luminaria kits may be purchased at the RAP office, Saturday/Sunday, Dec. 2 through Dec. 17; Tuesday through Friday, Dec. 5 through Dec. 15, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Kit vouchers may also be purchased at Riverside Arts Market each Saturday, Dec. 2 to Dec. 16, with pick up at the RAP office.

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