Thousands of luminaries light up Hopkins neighborhood on Christmas Eve

It's a last-second dash to get ready on Christmas Eve in Hopkins, but these homeowners aren't at the mall or wrapping presents. They're setting up 5,000 luminaries across more than two dozen city blocks from 5th Avenue North to 12th Avenue North from Main Street to Highway 7.

The community project is put on by the Hopkins' Avenues Neighborhood Association. 

Every year on Christmas Eve, neighbors in Hopkins line 29 city blocks with 5,000 luminaries.

"We are a place where you can come, you can walk, you can drive the streets," said Lisa Nelson, who helped organize the event as a block captain. 

The tradition was started five years ago by Dave Benson, who recently passed away from cancer. His legacy continues to shine on. 

"We can set these lights not just to celebrate Christmas, but to celebrate the community. We are all coming out together as neighbors, we are lighting these, we are chatting, we are getting to know each other," said Nelson.

The beautiful event is also a fundraiser for a local food shelf and elementary school, as well as the city's police and fire departments. It's also a chance for people who may have never met to come together.

"Those relationships go above and beyond than anything we could ever expect from the luminaries, but the luminaries are gorgeous!" exclaimed Nelson. 

Houses decorated with holiday decorations can be seen along the path of 5,000 luminaries in Hopkins, Minnesota. (FOX 9)

Amid a pandemic and a cold Minnesota winter, organizers hope the rows of luminaries serve as a symbol of hope for those beyond their city limits as well.

"I think it's also giving people hope. Hope that people are out here on a dark night, looking for ways to bring a community together," said Nelson. 

The luminaries typically burn well past midnight and are picked up on Christmas morning.