10,000 candles illuminate Barboursville cemetery (video)
BARBOURSVILLE, W.Va. -- It was just a one-night show, but what a show.
A massive luminaria display this weekend at White Chapel Memorial Gardens near the Huntington Mall was a vivid seasonal memorial honoring thousands of people who have passed on.
"We have over 11,000 people in our cemetery and we set out 10,000 candles," said Ashley Scott, a family services counselor.
She should know, as she was among a host of staff, volunteers and family members who spent all day Saturday placing white paper bags with candles inside on 10,000 graves.
"Our cemetery people that work here started putting out the candle bags at 7 in the morning. Volunteers started showing up at 1 p.m., and they started lighting at 3 p.m.," she said.
It was a frigid Saturday and by the time dusk approached and all the candles were lit, there were some pretty tired, cold people, Scott added. "I'm sore from bending. I couldn't feel my toes."
The end result, after darkness fell, was stunning, as thousands of flickering bags of light illuminated the rolling grounds of the cemetery. A steady stream of cars rolled through White Chapel's sinuous driveways and some people stopped by the office to praise the display.
"It was beautiful," Scott said. "A lot of people probably saw us from Interstate 64 and came over to see it."
This is the 18th year for the luminaria show, which is encouraged by StoneMor, the national cemetery and funeral home corporation that owns White Chapel. "Our corporate organization that owns us have done it in cemeteries across the United States," said Scott.
White Chapel sent out letters to families with grave markers at the cemetery, asking for volunteers for Saturday's display. Family members would light the candle on the grave of a loved one and then keep going, she said.
"Families usually come and light their own family members and then they might go around lighting the people around them."
Reach Douglas Imbrogno at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-3017.