Every remembrance story is one of a kind and so is each lovingly created lantern released during Lakewood’s Annual Lantern Lighting Celebration. At this year’s event on Friday, September 22 and Saturday, September 23, everyone is invited to come decorate lantern sleeves to honor and remember loved ones. When the sun sets, the lanterns carrying small lights will be placed in Jo Pond, as cherished names are read aloud, accompanied by the stirring music of a bagpipe.
Anne Maimares and her husband Eric Skarphol have attended the event twice. The first year they were invited by Barbara Heinz, who had worked as Anne’s father’s caregiver. “The mood at the Lantern Lighting Celebration was reflective and peaceful, but also warm and inviting,” Anne says. She was particularly struck by how the evening met people where they were at the different stages in their grief journey. After Anne’s father passed away, she sought a tranquil space to remember and honor him. The following year she invited her sister Krisanthy Sikkila to join her group, and the four found themselves more engaged with the celebratory aspects, including enjoying dinner from one of the food trucks and listening to the music as they decorated lanterns.
Anne and Krisanthy’s father and mother are buried in a section of Lakewood that was developed for St. Mary’s Greek Orthodox Church. It’s one of several burial sections at Lakewood, including the Chinese Community Memorial, Showmen’s Rest, and Elks Rest, that were created by community groups (often years ago) to offer memorial sites for people who are joined together by fraternal, labor, ethnic or religious bonds.
Anne says, “The event reminds me of how the Eastern Orthodox church remembers loved ones. It’s the embodiment of a sacred hymn from our church where we pray that our loved one’s memory will be eternal.”
Krisanthy adds, “We used pictures of my mom and dad on our lanterns, actually manifesting keeping their memories alive through these lovely lanterns.” They also included pictures and tributes to newsworthy people who had recently died including Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, John Lewis and Queen Elizabeth.
“Even though our losses are personal, seeing the lanterns float all together with everyone else’s that night felt like we were united in our grief. It let us truly see that we are not alone with the loss of our loved ones,” explained Anne.
Along with the Lantern Lighting Celebration, Anne and Krisanthy also come to Lakewood to visit their parents’ memorials, stroll Lakewood’s beautiful grounds and attend other Lakewood events.
RSVP now for this year’s Lantern Lighting Celebration.
You can also read the Gratz family’s story about the meaning and healing they find in attending Lakewood’s Lantern Lighting Celebration.