CORALVILLE — One night a year, thousands of white paper sacks — each filled with sand and a votive candle — create a magical scene on a winter evening in Coralville.
This year’s Aisle of Lights celebration takes place from 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday, with Coralville residents and businesses invited to light luminarias along their walkways, turn on their holiday lights and take a tour of the city.
“It really lights up the street and glows,” said Terry Kaeding, special events coordinator for Coralville. “The lights give you a calming, silent feeling as we move into the holiday season.”
The luminarias are one element of holiday decorations in Coralville, which already has transformed Second Street into a corridor of lights.
City officials have posted a user-generated map of some of the community’s favorite light displays at coralville.org/holidaylights.
For light displays throughout Eastern Iowa, view or submit locations at TheGazette.com/holiday-lights.
Aisle of Lights, sponsored this year by the University of Iowa Community Credit Union, takes place in good or bad weather. Residents can pick up the bags at the Coralville Recreation Center, 1506 Eighth St., or Hawkeye Ready-Mix, 309 First Ave., which is also donating the sand. For more information, go to coralville.org/AisleofLights.
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The tradition has been going on for more than 35 years and was started by Margaret Morgan, who spurred a luminarias display in her neighborhood around 10th Street, Kaeding said. The spectacle quickly caught on and spread citywide.
“It’s a quality of life thing pulls our community together,” Kaeding said.
Where to See Luminarias
The city and community volunteers will light luminarias on Fifth Street from First Avenue to S.T. Morrison Park, 12th Avenue from Highway 6 to Oakdale Boulevard, and Holiday Road from First to 12th avenues.
You can take a self-guided tour or go by bus. The bus departs from City Hall, 1512 Seventh St., at approximately 5:15, 6, 6:45 and 7:30 p.m. Each round is limited to 40 people. Rides are free.
For those waiting for rides, cocoa, cookies, music and a visit with Santa are inside City Hall from 5 to 7:30 p.m.
In conjunction with Aisle of Lights, several other holiday events are set to take place in Coralville on Saturday and Sunday. The events are free to the public unless otherwise noted. Here is a rundown:
l 2 to 4 p.m. — Old Town Hall, 407 Fifth St. Holiday open house with an exhibit of antique sleds and toys.
l 5 p.m. — Coral Ridge Ice Arena, 1451 Coral Ridge Ave. Hawkeye Skating Club performs.
l Noon to 5 p.m. — Antique Car Museum of Iowa, 860 Quarry Rd. Special admission rate: $2.50
l 1 to 5 p.m. — Hawkeye Model Railroad Club, 840 Quarry Rd. View model railroads and watch the trains.
l 2 to 5 p.m. — Iowa River Landing, East Ninth Street and Quarry Road. Holiday business open houses. Celebrate the magic of the season with family fun and activities.
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l 2 to 5 p.m. — Johnson County Historical Society Museum, 860 Quarry Rd. Make a holiday snack and a craft and enjoy hot apple cider.
l 3 to 6 p.m. — Old Town Hall, 407 Fifth St. Holiday open house with an exhibit of antique sleds and toys.
l 4 to 7 p.m. — Coralville United Methodist Church, 806 13th Ave. Enjoy homemade soups and desserts. Freewill donations help sponsor youth mission trips.
l 5 to 7:30 p.m. — Coralville City Hall, 1512 Seventh St. Free hot chocolate and cookies. Bring a camera for photos with Santa in an antique sleigh. Live music by Redeemer Community Group.
l 5 to 7:30 p.m. — Coralville City Hall, 1512 Seventh St. Watch Bop’s choo-choo trains as they travel through a magical Victorian winter wonderland.
l Comments: (319) 339-3177; firstname.lastname@example.org