In this 2009 photo, Christina Deierling, of Snohomish, lights candles along the Riverfront Trail in old Snohomish, despite objections from her little dog, Bella, who appeared quite nervous about the flame in the bag. When the lighting was finished, people took a candlelight walk to celebrate the winter solstice. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

In this 2009 photo, Christina Deierling, of Snohomish, lights candles along the Riverfront Trail in old Snohomish, despite objections from her little dog, Bella, who appeared quite nervous about the flame in the bag. When the lighting was finished, people took a candlelight walk to celebrate the winter solstice. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

500 candles light the way for Snohomish’s solstice river walk

The Winter Solstice Candlelight River Walk is 4 to 7 p.m. Dec. 21 along the Riverfront Trail.

The winter solstice is a special day for just about every Northwesterner.

Yes, it’s the darkest day of the year. But it also marks the end of ever-increasing darkness and more daylight to come, if only by a minute or two a day.

In Snohomish, you can celebrate the solstice by joining the annual candlelight river walk. The event, now in its 13th year, draws hundreds to enjoy the 500 luminaries that light the path along the Snohomish River.

“It’s a wonderful gift to the community,” said Karen Guzak, who with her partner Warner Blake launched the event. The couple have continued as its organizers, supported by a group of some 30 volunteers.

“It’s just a fun celebration,” Guzak said, adding that it’s an event that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. “It’s a family-friendly, no-charge celebration of this dark day and the turning of the planets.”

Walkers often sing carols and some even take the night’s stroll decorated with Christmas lights powered by batteries.

Luminaries are set along a path that goes from near Avenue D to Cady Park at 40 Maple Ave. The event takes place rain or shine or, as the case in some years past, cold snaps that left snow in their wake.

Steve Erie uses a walking stick as he makes his way eastward alongside candles on the Snohomish River Trail between Cady Park and Avenue D in Snohomish, just two minutes before the winter solstice in 2006. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Steve Erie uses a walking stick as he makes his way eastward alongside candles on the Snohomish River Trail between Cady Park and Avenue D in Snohomish, just two minutes before the winter solstice in 2006. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Lya Badgley, who leads the city’s parks board, said that the paved trail is ADA accessible, for those who use a wheelchair, or as she does, a cane.

Wendy Poischbeg, the city’s economic development director, said it’s fantastic to have a balance between the holiday Christmas lights and something along the riverfront that’s more nature-inspired. “I love the idea of having luminaries along the riverfront,” she said.

Although this is the last year Guzak and Blake are organizing the event, that doesn’t signal its demise.

Emily Collins, a manager at the Snohomish Bakery, and her husband Brennan Collins, have agreed to take over organizing next year’s walk.

Both have been solstice walk volunteers for the past three years.

“We wanted to volunteer because the winter solstice has been a special tradition in my life,” Emily Collins said. Her mother had annual solstice parties remembered fondly by family members.

“Just the idea of the lanterns along the river was so magical to me,” she said. “I just love it.”

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or salyer@heraldnet.com.

If you go

What: Winter Solstice Candlelight River Walk

When: 4 to 7 p.m. Dec. 21

Where: Riverfront Trail, near First Street and Avenue D, Snohomish

More: tinyurl.com/snohomishsolstice2018

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