SHELBYVILLE -- As Central Illinois temperatures rise above freezing, organizers are looking forward to a walk tonight at Lake Shelbyville.

“The weather hasn’t been too encouraging, but now we’re hoping lots of people will come out and enjoy what is a very unique experience,” said Jerry Yockey, one of the organizers of the General Dacey Trail Candlelight Walk.

Now in its eighth year, the 6 to 8 p.m. walk features 2½ miles of luminary lighted trails and a bonfire with hot chocolate and hot cider.

Yockey said fellow organizer Bob Niestradt has made 150 luminaries that will hang in the trees along with more than 500 along the paths. More than 300 people, including walkers with canes and infants in strollers, are expected for this year’s event.

“There’s really nothing like it,” Yockey said. “The trails have a very different look at night -- there’s a quiet you don’t find during the day and there’s a chance to see wildlife along with seeing the lake at night.”

Yockey said the bonfire gathering brings visitors from around Central Illinois together.

“We get walkers from the Decatur area, from Mattoon and even further away,” he said. "People are friendly and seem to really enjoy getting to visit.”

Shelbyville nurse Rebecca Dove has been bringing her four children, ages 7 through 20, to the walk since the beginning.

“We do love the candlelight walk on the trails," she said. “My kids love it best when there is snow. It’s so pretty. The sense of community around the bonfire is a great benefit in a small town. It always seems like family. It’s a chance to see many friends in the middle of winter when it’s more difficult to see them as often.”

Dove said the walk is always worth it, even when she had a stroller in the snow.

“It’s something you don’t want to miss,” she said.


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