Lighting Rose Crossing Once Again

By Beacon Staff

Last Christmas Eve, the mile of Rose Crossing between U.S. Highway 2 and Whitefish Stage was darker than it had been in years without luminaries lighting the road.

This year, Evergreen firefighters are bringing the light back to Rose Crossing, and they hope to start a new tradition of giving within the community.

Luminaries are candles that have been placed into paper bags that are weighed down with sand. In the past, residents on Rose Crossing, led by Kim Lister, have lined the road with these points of light as a way to celebrate the holidays with their neighbors.

The Christmas Eve tradition on Rose Crossing has been going on for at least 17 years, according to Evergreen Fire Rescue Chief Craig Williams, and his department would like to see it continue.

Williams said he contacted Lister after she decided not to light the luminaries last year to see if the fire department could help take on the tradition. The firefighters also wanted to add a new dimension to the project.

“I thought we could turn this into a fundraiser trying to benefit local groups and organizations in need,” Williams said.

This year, people can purchase a $5 luminary and dedicate it to a loved one, Williams said. The regular luminaries will be in brown paper bags, and the purchased bag will be white. People who donate can pick up their bag at the fire department and decorate it before the event, Williams said.

The proceeds will go to the Boys and Girls Club of Evergreen.

Evergreen firefighters put up the initial cost of the candles, bags and sand, Williams said, which were quickly recouped by donations from the Lions Club of Evergreen and the Rotary Club.

Now, the fire department is hoping for donations that will go directly to the Boys and Girls Club.

The luminary lighting will begin at 3 p.m. on Christmas Eve and run through 6 p.m., Williams said. Firefighters will be on hand to monitor the multiple tiny flames and Flathead County sheriff’s deputies will help ensure the safety of participants and ward off vandals.

It will also be a training opportunity for the fire department, he said, because they will run the scene like an incident. But the basis of the event is about the community, he said.

“It’s really cool; people generally drive with their lights off,” Williams said.

Lister said last week that she and her family would provide mentorship support for the firefighters and that she was happy to see the luminary tradition come back. She and her family kept the event going for “many, many years” because it was beloved within the community.

“It was one of those things that gave a lot of people a gift, something to do as a family on Christmas Eve that was available to anyone regardless of where they came from,” Lister said.

The Listers decided to switch gears last year and not pursue the luminaries because it takes up a big portion of the day that they would like to spend elsewhere, she said. After they made that decision, Lister said the fire department contacted her and tried to get the event going, but there wasn’t enough time to pull it off.

This year, she’s excited to see the luminaries come back and fully supports the idea of using the project as a fundraiser for those in need.

“It is absolutely so cool that it’s firefighters relighting that flame,” Lister said. “I just think it’s a wonderful thing that they’ve taken on.”

Lister invited anyone to come and experience the candle-lit road because it makes people slow down a bit and reflect on the season. Williams extended a similar invitation.

“I think everybody could use a little peace in their life,” he said.

For more information on the luminary project, contact Evergreen Fire Rescue at 406-752-4636 or visit www.evergreenfirerescue.net.