In Seminary Overlook, the holiday spirit burns brightly [Lutherville-Timonium]

During the holiday season, thoughts of celebrations bring to mind the traditions that accompany them. In Seminary Overlook, the neighborhood festivities have become an eagerly anticipated time that draws together friends and family members of all ages.

For nearly two decades, it has been the third Saturday in December that makes the holidays magical and fosters the spirit of community in this neighborhood. The excitement starts in the afternoon, when sirens roar through the streets, marking the arrival of Santa Claus, who comes courtesy of the Lutherville Volunteer Fire Company and its willingness to provide a "sleigh."


By dusk, more than a thousand white paper bags filled with lighted candles illuminate the sidewalks, making it essential to tour the neighborhood on the way to the main event — the community's annual bonfire.

"We've had fires when it was 9 degrees out, and we've had fires when it was 60 degrees," says Tim Tremblay, president of the community association. Even a blizzard in 2009 did not keep away the most adventurous of neighbors, who were willing to overlook the cold and snow.


Despite this past Saturday's snow, ice and freezing temperatures, the holiday celebrations in Seminary Overlook once again showed the neighborhood's community spirit. Dozens of children waited for their chance to see Santa, and Tim estimates that about 60 people enjoyed the roaring flames at the bonfire.

One of Tim's favorite memories of the bonfire happened when the flames were nearly out. As he waited for the fire department to douse the final embers, a man driving through the neighborhood stopped and introduced himself as an airline pilot who earlier that evening had seen from the sky the beauty created by the bonfire and luminaries.

The pilot told Tim that he turned on his microphone and told his passengers to look out their windows to see how a neighborhood in Baltimore County was lighting up the skies.

For the children running around the field with their friends, the evening is made complete with toasted marshmallows and s'mores. On many occasions, those willing to lend their voices to Christmas carols have added to the festivities.

These holiday events could not take place were it not for a team of volunteers. Through the years, many neighbors and board members have served the community by helping with this gathering. Appreciation goes to Bob Posterli for his ongoing commitment to donating a supply of wooden pallets and for obtaining the permits needed to light them; to Mike Leonard for obtaining the bags for the luminaries; and to John and Jane Bacon for continuing to lend Santa his suit, long after their own children have grown.

This year, Bill and Amy Adams and Todd and Allison Hobelmann joined to organize the supplies for the luminaries and deliver them to neighbors. Peter McCullough added his name to the list of those willing to wear the Santa suit.

As you gather with family and friends in the coming weeks, I wish you memory-making celebrations filled with fun and laughter.