Luminary Society remembers community members

Luminaries will line Olive Boulevard after the last week of classes as part of an enduring Murray State tradition.

Started in 1990 by Howard and Blanch Titsworth, the Luminaries originally were set out to celebrate the memory of the deceased residents of the boulevard,but recently transformed to be a remembrance for all members of the community.

Murray State has joined in a partnership with the Luminary Society to help keep the luminaries stay active this holiday season. Several student organizations said they would be assisting in this year’s tradition.

Judy Ratliff, a member of the Luminary Society said the students’ contribution is a huge help to many aspects of the remembrance ceremony.

“I am very appreciative of the students helping our small community maintain its spirit and keep the tradition alive,” Ratliff said.  “Without them, it would have been Dan Lavitt, Trevor Miller and I setting up and then lighting a little over 250 bags. Some of the older residents and a few younger ones have been wrapping the candles in aluminum foil in preparation for the event.”

Ratliff said students will assist with different aspects of the luminary event, from placing of the candles to pasting out hot chocolate. She said some students will help serve hot chocolate and cookies to the people helping. Two campus ministry groups are also planning to help make and deliver candy to residents.

The luminaries have become more than an end-of-the-year tradition, Ratliff said. She said if there was ever any symbol of the community spirit, chivalry, goodness and desire to help others, this outpouring of support from students to help carry on the Luminary tradition is it for her.

Groups will meet at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at 1321 Olive Boulevard and will light candles at 4:30 p.m. the same day. The candles will be lit again Sunday at 4:30 p.m.

Ratliff said student support helps remind her of the true meaning behind the Olive Boulevard tradition.

“The light of the candles represent the lives of those we have lost, who we have loved and treasured our time with,” Ratliff said. “We are very overwhelmed at the outpouring of support from Murray State students and we do hope they enjoy the candlelit street.”

Drew Filosa, junior from Normal, Ill., and a member of the Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity, said the tradition is another chance for his fraternity to give back to Murray.

“We like to help out with the luminaries because it’s a rewarding feeling to help make the community better,” he said. “We have a couple big projects that we do every year, Rake-n-Run every fall, where we rake yards in the community and over spring break, we send a group of 20 brothers down to Florida or Alabama to build houses for Habitat for Humanity.”

Filosa said he personally appreciated the offer because not only does it give his fraternity a chance to give back, but it also helps set in the holiday spirit during finals week.

“We were approached by Ratliff in early November about helping her out with putting the luminaries out this year,” Filosa said. “What I like most about doing this project is that we are able to share our time and our efforts and give back to the community.”

Story by Samantha Villanueva, Staff writer.