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'Something that’s normal': Luminaria continues for 36th straight year in Riverside, Avondale

Candles lined the sidewalks in the Riverside Avondale area Sunday night, part of the Luminaria event hosted by Riverside Avondale Preservation.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Community members started putting out candles around dusk Sunday night in the Riverside and Avondale neighborhoods.

It's part of a more than three-decade-old holiday tradition, Luminaria, hosted by Riverside Avondale Preservation. Executive Director Warren Jones said the event started 36 years ago as a way for people to get to know each other and to build a sense of community.

The event has now grown to churches and 26 parks in the area, candles lining the sidewalks and streets. Jones said to be able to have this holiday celebration this year means a lot during the pandemic.

"We have had a lot of phone calls from people over the last couple of months wanting to know if it was possible to do this, and of course it’s an outdoor event, so it is possible for people to be safe doing this," Jones said. "It really means a lot to the community to have something that’s normal, something that they’re used to, something that many of them have celebrated for 36 years."

The proceeds from purchasing the kits to build the luminaries helps pay for candles in the churches and parks. It also supports the Riverside Avondale Preservation, a group that works to preserve the historic neighborhood and promote the commercial district.

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