(Editor's note: This is a reminder to get your order in soon for Boy Scout luminarias, which are being assembled by Scouts and parent volunteers this weekend. Check out this feature story by Tia Benjamins and the see the contact information for each troop at the bottom of this story so you can make your orders.)
By Tia Benjamins
If you take a drive in San Marin and other neighborhood pockets of Novato on Christmas Eve, you will be treated to a local tradition that has united the neighborhood for several years running. Like clockwork every Christmas Eve, curbs, driveways and yards are lined with the traditional decorating symbols of the Southwest, known as luminarias or farolitos. You will see little rivers of light, rios de luces, as neighborhoods glow.
Amazingly, this will be the 50th year of Troop 42 scouts delivering those charming little lanterns, along with holiday spirit, to our community! It all began in 1962 when Novato had a population of just 17,800. Now with more than 53,000 residents, Novato Boy Scouts continue the annual tradition of building luminarias to raise funds supporting their many public service projects and positive outdoor experiences throughout the year.
Previous Eagle projects include work at Miwok, O’Hair, Dogbone and Stafford Lake parks, local schools, Point Reyes National Seashore, Tomales Bay and Samuel P Taylor state parks, the Novato Youth Center and many other local amenities. Scouts also help with Clean and Green Day, local food drives and other environmental and community efforts, and they enjoy camping, hiking, biking and rafting trips to the mountains, deserts, rivers and oceans — fun, character-building experiences to last a lifetime.
This year, on Dec. 8 (if the weather cooperates), in a Herculean logistics effort, the Scouts will gather for the big build with their families and as many others as they can rope into it. This involves several cubic yards of sand, a flat-loader truck, thousands of paper bags folded by hand (mostly over Thanksgiving while watching football!) and as many candles. Putting it all together and delivering hundreds of completed sets of 10 luminarias per cardboard “flat” (from recycled soda packaging) all on the same day requires a high level of teamwork and organization. It’s a positive and (dare I say it) enlightening experience all around.
“The build day is actually a lot of fun as well as a lot of hard work," said Tim Elsmore, father of two Eagle Scouts and Troop 42 alumni. "It’s truly an amazing sight to see the results on Christmas Eve. When every house in a neighborhood participates there really is a true sense of community.”
Join your neighbors this year and make your home warm and inviting with a one of a kind Southwestern flavor, by decorating with luminarias. Don’t be left in the dark!
HOW TO ORDER
Each of the city's scout troops services a different area of Novato.
Troop 42 covers the San Marin area north of Novato Boulevard and west of Simmons Lane, “The Presidents” area around Novato High School, and Hamilton. Order online at www.novato-troop42.org.
Troop/Crew 82 covers Loma Verde, Pacheco Valle and the Marin Country Club (south) side of Ignacio Boulevard. Order by e-mailing Crew82Lum@gmail.com.
Troop 200 covers downtown Novato to West Novato, on the southwest side of Novato Boulevard from Diablo Avenue to Sutro Avenue, the Olive Avenue area, Atherton Avenue area, Bel Marin Keys and the north side of Ignacio Boulevard (from Entrada to Turner drives). Order by e-mailing TROOP200LUMS@gmail.com.