News & Events

Luminaria - December 20th, 2015

Riverside Avondale Preservation is pleased to announce the 2015 Luminaria date, December 20th, beginning at dusk. This yearly celebration of the holiday season occurs in the Riverside and Avondale neighborhoods of Jacksonville.

The history of Riverside Avondale’s Luminaria began 31 years ago with a devoted community member and RAP supporter, Jerry Spinks. Mr. Spinks was looking for a way to help raise funds for Riverside Avondale Preservation during the holidays and give back to the community. He thought he would just sell a bundle of luminaries to his neighbors, but to his surprise he sold out quickly. In fact, he had to go around town gathering more supplies to keep up with the demand. Decades later, Riverside Avondale Preservation still uses Luminaria to bring the community together and as a fundraiser.

The money raised from luminary kit sales benefit RAP’s yearly programs and neighborhood causes. RAP encourages the neighborhood to purchase official RAP kits from its headquarters located at 2623 Herschel Street beginning the week of December 7th. The office will be open Tuesday through Friday from 10am – 2pm and the drive through kit sales will be available on Saturdays from 9am – 4pm (December 12th and 19th) and Sundays 12pm – 4pm (December 13th and 20th). Kits are $6 each and include 6 bags, 6 candles and sand. Kits sold in other locations may not benefit the community. Visit the RAP website for any additional official RAP sales locations.

On the day of Luminaria, the neighborhood lights their luminaries at dusk and RAP donates the kits for parks and recruits volunteers to light up the major parks and pocket parks throughout the neighborhood. With the neighborhood aglow, evening celebrations commence. Neighbors organize their own community block parties, progressive dinners and strolling through the parks to enjoy the luminaries.

“Luminaria is one of my favorite times of year,” Carmen Godwin, RAP Executive Director said. “I love seeing the community come together to enjoy their neighborhood and spending time together. How I personally enjoy Luminaria is by walking my kids through the parks and visiting with neighbors. It is also fun to hear neighbors talk about competing to see who can create the most beautiful presentation of Luminaria kits along their sidewalks and entries.”

The parade and happenings that occur on St. Johns Avenue (and surrounding streets) has grown organically, and are not organized or sanctioned by RAP. In recent years, concerns have been raised about the safety, traffic, and public behavior; some of which violates both City and State laws.

As a community organization seeking to ensure a safe and enjoyable Luminaria evening for everyone, RAP has been meeting with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO) to address concerns. These meetings resulted in the conclusion that in the interest of public safety there is no way to safely allow the parade on St. Johns Avenue to continue in violation of state and city laws.

Beginning this year, the JSO will increase enforcement in the neighborhood and will not allow the following:
• Individuals riding in the back of trucks or trailers (F.S.S. 316.2015)
• Littering – From a vehicle or from person ( F.S.S. 403.413)
• Riding ATVs on public roads
• Open containers of alcoholic beverages

Riverside Avondale Preservation invites the public to come out and enjoy Luminaria on December 20th. Those visiting are asked to be respectful of property owners and not litter or throw candy; and to operate their vehicles in a safe and legal manner. The historic district is very walkable and bike friendly, and residents and visitors are encouraged to take advantage of this. With the help from the residents and visitors alike, Luminaria will be a fun evening for all.

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