By Brian Livingston / firstname.lastname@example.org
The Meridian Star
Back by popular demand, the owners of Meridian Memorial Park and Magnolia Cemetery in downtown Meridian will be present the Christmas Luminary Program this weekend.
Bill Arlinghaus and Betty Williams, owners of the two cemeteries, said the program has been extended for a couple of days so that people can enjoy the sights of the lights.
"We found out that in the past people missed the event because it was only for a short time so we decided this year to carry it through the entire weekend," said Williams.
The program will begin at the Meridian Memorial Park located on Highway 80 West Friday, Dec. 14, at dusk, or 5:30 p.m. The times at Magnolia Cemetery, located on 23rd Avenue, are the same on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 15 and 16.
Arlinghaus said there will be thousands of lights lining the roadways of both sites. He said there are about three miles of road in Magnolia Cemetery and a little over a mile of road in Memorial Park.
"You can drive without your headlights on," said Arlinghaus. "That is how much light is given off by all the candles."
Arlinghaus said they will set a record for the number of lights that will be on display this year. But he doesn't know the exact number.
"Just this week we've added 2,300 lights so yes it will be much bigger than ever before," he said.
This is the third year of the program and it was the first program Arlinghaus and Williams tackled after buying the two cemeteries.
Williams said if people want to purchase a candle to put on a loved one's site they can do so for $20. She said even if there is no one buried in either cemetery, candles can still be purchased for the sake of remembrance.
"We will have special sites for those who don't have loved ones buried at either site and for veterans so everyone can be included in the display if they so desire," Williams said.
The lights for the individual sites and those to be remembered will be kept burning up until Christmas, Williams said. Arlinghaus, Williams and the crew with Magnolia Cemetery will be on hand each night to help anyone wishing to purchase lights for loved ones. Williams said even Santa Claus will be at each site to hand out candy and some cheer.
There is no charge for driving through and enjoying the lights. Arlinghaus said the views from higher points of the cemeteries are spectacular and he hopes everyone comes out to enjoy them to their fullest.