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Story by RVMS Marketing Co-Chair Jocelyn Hutt

If you’ve ever walked or driven by Adams Park on the night of what is known as The Solstice, a/k/a  the shortest day of the year, you might have seen the park aglow with the lights and shadows from hundreds of lanterns. The event is called Luminaria, and we wanted to know a bit more, so we spoke with Karen Kirchoff owner of Acupuncture & Herbs and the woman who every year brings this lovely event to Roslindale.

Before we get into Luminaria, we would love to know a bit more about you.

I care deeply about the intersection of community-building with issues of health and wellness.  I began my acupuncture and herbal medicine (board certified) practice in 1996.  The acupuncture perspective considers seasonal influences on well-being.

What is Luminaria and how does it differ from Jamaica Plain’s Lantern Parade?

Luminaria is Roslindale’s unique, annual community gathering that lights up Roslindale’s business district and Adams Park with 500 glowing, white lanterns on the evening of the longest night of the year.  It provides a beautiful setting for all of us to gather with friends and family in the spirit of welcoming the lengthening days-to-follow, and an antidote to the hectic season.  Luminaria welcomes the opportunity in our community to gather across diverse cultures, faiths, and generations, in the beauty of tree-lined Adams Park.  On this night, many cultures the world over mark the solstice.   In these respects, the Luminaria is different from JP’s Lantern Parade.

Luminaria, as a community gathering, gives us the opportunity to meet new people, outside, on a cold winter night, in a convivial way.  It reminds us of the turning of the earth.  It reminds us, together as a community, that each day now lengthens (which can be a comfort for those with seasonal affect disorder).  And it gives us the opportunity to sing, learn new songs, and increase our repertoire of songs to sing in community, if we want to.  All non-singers are welcome as well!  Come and enjoy the lights.

Is the event primarily for children?

Not at all – people come with friends or by themselves; it’s a community event.  Each year I try to widen the circle of outreach to engage more residents in Roslindale.  This year, Donna Parker from the Boston Center for Youth & Family reached out to me. Donna teaches computer skills to youths at the Center and she was thinking about the intersection of science and art/culture, and will teach her kids how to include LED lights in their Lumieres.  This strengthens the goal of making this a wider community event.  

We talked to Donna Parker, Computer Instructor at the BCYF Menino Community Center, and she let us know that the kids are looking forward to being a part of the Luminaria. They plan to have their young people make lanterns and light up balloons to celebrate the festival with the Archdale community.

We encourage everyone to attend! Sing a song in rounds with us!  Learn a new song!  Sing an old song.  Or just listen and enjoy.  We will have songbooks for you to join in. The event officially begins at 6:30 and we begin setup before dusk. We let the lights go until they burn out, which usually takes about 2-3 hours.

With hundreds of lanterns lighting the park, you must need help – how can people help?

Yes please!   We have benefitted from help over the years from so many volunteers: one group in particular, Mark Pelletier  and Spontaneous Celebrations helped us tremendously last year by making available to us for purchase all of our needs: bottles, candles, wax.  He also allowed us to conduct several lantern-making workshops right there at Spontaneous, without charging us.  

To get involved, call me ( Karen Kirchoff )at 617-522-3990 (work) to volunteer, or to ask any questions.  Volunteers are needed to set out the Luminaria on Tuesday 12/22, to light the lanterns, and/or bring them in at the end of the night.  We will all work together as volunteers to set out and bring in the lanterns.  We have prepared all 500 lanterns and have them all ready to go!  And we are always in need of donations to offset the expense of materials!

Thank you so much – we are really looking forward to this event!