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Christmas lights invoke season, memories of lost loved ones

December 03, 1999|By BRENDAN KIRBY

Robert and Stella Mumma bought ribbons on a "memory tree" Friday at Rose Hill Cemetery in honor of their daughter, who died last month, and then marched with about 400 other people to Hagerstown City Park to watch as Christmas decorations were lighted.

The event has become an annual tradition. Rose Hill Cemetery has sponsored its event for 11 years now in conjunction with the city.

It was a first for the Mummas, who will celebrate their first Christmas without daughter Sue Ann Mumma Deneen.

"I have never seen this before," said Robert Mumma, of Hagerstown.

The $2 ribbons, which contain their daughter's name, were displayed on one of two living memorial trees at the cemetery. The money raised goes to charity.

At the end of the season, a ribbon from each tree will be randomly selected, and a tree is planted in honor of each name selected.

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"We do this every year in memory of those who have lost loved ones," said Bill Divelbiss, executive vice president of Rose Hill.

The evening began at the cemetery, which was lighted with about 2,000 luminaires stretching approximately 3 1/2 miles.

The South Hagerstown High School choir sang Christmas carols as the crowd held candles.

At City Park, officials turned on lights one by one on various decorations across the lake, including new ones in the shape of a boy pulling a sleigh and three snowmen.

In the grand finale, the lights of a giant Christmas tree in the middle of the lake were turned on.

"I think it's very attractive. It's a nice thing to bring your kids to," said Hagerstown resident Jay Armstrong, who was there with his 16-month-old daughter.

It was also the first time Phil Physioc attended the lighting ceremony. He said he lighted a candle in memory of relatives who are buried at the cemetery.

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