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Festival of Lights adds light during 'dark time'

Holiday ceremony at Rest Haven offers solace to people who've lost loved ones

Holiday ceremony at Rest Haven offers solace to people who've lost loved ones

December 11, 2008|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

For people who've recently lost loved ones, Christmas can be "the darkest time of year," says Charles Brown, owner of Rest Haven Funeral Chapel & Cemetery on Pennsylvania Avenue.

For the past 20 years Rest Haven has hosted Festival of Lights, a concert and candle ceremony meant to offer comfort to grieving families and celebrate the joy of the holidays, Brown says.

"At Christmastime, lights (and) life - it all goes together," he says.

This year's Festival of Lights has been set for Saturday, Dec. 3.

Appalachian Wind Quintet will play Christmas music at 3 p.m. Families will head outside to light a luminaria at their loved one's grave site at 4 p.m.

The 9,000 candles will remain lit until they naturally extinguish, usually at early dawn, Brown says.

There are nearly 15,000 people buried at Rest Haven, but because many of them share a single marker, 9,000 luminarias account for most families, Brown says.

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Sometimes, families don't show up to light their candles.

"A lot of families don't come out," Brown says. "There aren't any of them left."

But their candles don't go unlit. Volunteers and other families do the honors, Brown says.

Last year, about 200 people attended Festival of Lights. Brown says the event is not just for people with family buried at Rest Haven.

"Even if you don't have someone buried at Rest Haven or in Hagerstown, come out and just remember," Brown says.




If you go ...



WHAT: Festival of Lights, a concert and candle ceremony featuring 9,000 luminaria

WHEN: 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 13. Appalachian Wind Quintet performs at 3 p.m. Luminarias will be lit at 4 p.m.

WHERE: Rest Haven Funeral Chapel & Cemetery, 1601 Pennsylvania Ave., Hagerstown

COST: Free

MORE: 301-733-3575

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