The Winter Solstice Luminary Project will expand and amplify the Art Kits for All program across Waterville, literally lighting up the city by providing luminary kits to approximately 1,600 students enrolled in the Waterville Public Schools.

Waterville Creates, in collaboration with community partners, including the Colby College Museum of Art, Kennebec Montessori School, Waterville School District, Family Violence Project, Waterville Parent Teacher Association, Northern Stars Planetarium, and the Children’s Discovery Museum will distribute kits to area schools on Thursday, Dec. 17. The free kits will include materials for two luminaries per kit along with battery-operated candles. Students and their families are encouraged to place the crafted luminaries at their homes and businesses throughout the city on Dec. 21 between 4 and 6:30 p.m. to collectively celebrate the winter solstice, according to a news release from Waterville Creates!

“This project is designed to create a shared joyful experience while we practice social distancing and continue to navigate the challenges of the pandemic. It’s also a creative and collaborative way to illuminate our city during the solstice,” said Serena Sanborn, Education + Outreach coordinator for Waterville Creates!, according to the release.

The project is part of the successful Art Kits for All program which was launched in May in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This program is an innovative, collaborative program designed to keep families engaged and connected to the arts. By providing free art supplies and instructions, this program offers high-quality, accessible art experiences in a completely reimagined way. To date, more than 1,600 art kits have been distributed to hundreds of area families since mid-April. This is the largest single distribution that the Art Kit team has undertaken.

According to the release, the Winter Solstice is the shortest day and longest night of the year and occurs each December in the Northern Hemisphere. The solstice event occurs as a direct result of the Earth’s tilt and relative position to the sun. In many cultures throughout the world, people have holidays and festivities that involve lights to celebrate the Solstice. Creating luminaries around the solstice is a tradition that dates back thousands of years.

For more instructions on creating the luminary, visit the Waterville Creates! You Tube channel.

Critical support for this program has been provided by Kennebec Savings Bank, MaineGeneral Health, Colby Center for the Arts + Humanities, United Way of Mid Maine with additional support from Bangor Savings Bank and dozens of individual donors.