Residents of East Acoma Drive in North Phoenix will celebrate 25 years of illuminating lights on Christmas Eve. This annual tradition brightens the season and makes a half-mile stretch through their neighborhood a destination drive for hundreds of holiday celebrants.
More than 1,000 white luminarias will line the sidewalks of the residential drive, located midway between Thunderbird and Greenway roads, as it meanders from 32nd to 28th Streets. Additionally, residents along the Claire Drive cul-de-sacs east and west of 29th Street are placing luminarias in front of their along their homes. The lighting of the luminarias for both streets begins at 5:45 p.m. Monday, Dec. 24.
“The voluntary display has grown in participation to more than 90 percent of the homes along Acoma Drive since inception in 1994,” said Jerry Porter, who began the tradition in 1994 at the suggestion of his wife, Susan.
The luminaria sacks are distributed free of charge by Realtor® Terri Welch of Keller Williams Realty, with residents simply asked to provide candles and place the sacks uniformly along the sidewalk.
Residents gather to enjoy the event and neighborly fellowship during an outdoor, post-lighting “driveway social.” This year’s social will be on the Porters’ driveway at 3010 E. Acoma Drive, with passersby welcome to stop and join the potluck event. He adds there is a possibility “a jolly old fellow in a red suit” might take a break from his worldwide trip that evening to pass out candy canes to passing motorists.
The event’s 10th anniversary in 2003 sparked the beginning of a new tradition in which the illuminating display is presented each year in honor or memory of someone of special significance to an Acoma Drive-area neighbor. This year’s 25th anniversary display is a variation of that practice, with each neighbor given the opportunity to recognize the legacy of the Acoma Drive neighborhood by writing the name of an individual they wish to honor or memorialize on the creased, folded-over top of each luminaria bag. Residents may recognize one individual or multiple individuals on the bags in front of their homes, meaning scores or even hundreds of individuals could be recognized for their role in contributing to the legacy of those residing along the street. Representatives of the Phoenix Police and Fire departments are invited to join the festivities, if duty allows.