Downtown Buchanan lit up with luminaries during Christmas Eve tradition

The luminaries made from milk jugs are to commemorate the flood of 1985

Luminaries in downtown Buchanan (Sydney Jaxtheimer, Copyright 2021 by WSLS 10 - All rights reserved.)

BUCHANAN, Va. – A unique, Christmas Eve tradition takes place each year in the Town of Buchanan.

Volunteers spend Christmas Eve setting up milk jugs that are transformed into luminaries along a half mile strip of downtown Buchanan. The decades long tradition began after the flood of 1985.

“One of our local residents, Jean Baber, had a brainstorm following the flood of ‘85. There was a mountain of water jugs behind our firehouse. People from the region had sent the town bottles of water and she thought it would be nice to show some sort of appreciation so she organized the first luminary effort,” said Buchanan’s community development planner, Harry Gleason.

Each year, it takes dozens of volunteers to clean the jugs, fill them with candles, lay them out and light them. This is lifelong Buchanan resident, James Manspile’s 29th year volunteering.

“This is the thing I love to do. and now that I’m on town council it’s the one event that I do for the town and enjoy doing it,” said Manspile.

Not only are the luminaries a beautiful sight while walking or driving downtown, they also shed a light on the town’s dark history.

“Flood of ‘85 I remember it as a kid and there are still things missing here that the flood took away and for the ones who lived here all our lives we will never forget it,” said Manspile.

The luminaries will be lit until Christmas morning. Then volunteers will gather to pick them back up at 9am Saturday morning.

About the Author:

Sydney joined the WSLS 10 News team in June 2021.