The luminaries that have become a Christmas Eve tradition in many places took on new meaning this year in a Fairfield neighborhood.
Residents of Lalley Boulevard and area streets somberly set out 26 luminary candles at their homes Monday evening, lighting them as flickering tributes to each of the victims of the shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.
"It's very sad that we have any of them lit," said Susan Burns, who joined dozens of her neighbors in lighting 26 candles enclosed in white bags in front of her home.
Many others followed suit throughout the neighborhood. Many decorated the luminary bags, and most had the names of the shooting victims written on them.
The neighborhood effort was the brainchild of Lalley Boulevard residents Tory and Nicole Russo, whose nephews attend Sandy Hook Elementary School. Local businesses, including the Pine Creek Deli and the Yankee Candle Co., helped out by donating supplies for the luminaries.
"In this neighborhood for years we always lit the luminary bags, but this year she asked that we light 26," Andrea Gosp said, "I'm honoring the victims. It's the holidays and it's a tough time not to have a child."
"It's Christmas time and I feel it's probably the least we can do -- try to honor them in some way," said Richard Bernstein, who was lighting 26 luminaries in front of his house with his daughters, Sadie and Merrill. "Unfortunately, there are 26 families who are never going to be able to look at Christmas the same way again. It just seems it's the least we can do."
Terry Bruno also took time to light 26 luminaries at his home. He said he was urged by his daughters to join the neighborhood tribute.
"If nothing else, there are a lot of thoughts and prayers going out from people," he said.