Mona Shield Payne / Special to the Sun
Sunday, April 12, 2009 | 10:46 a.m.
More than 400 people rose before dawn this morning to greet Easter morning as it broke at Hemenway Park during Boulder City’s 22nd annual Easter Sunrise Service.
Carrying chairs and blankets to sit on, members of the crowd bundled up against the early morning chill and drank coffee provided by the Boulder City Interfaith Lay Council or warm drinks they brought for themselves.
For many, it was a tradition.
Diane Conrad, who came with her daughter Katelyn and friend Mary Lynn Koster, said she has come since the services began. She planned to attend her regular church, Faith Christian Church, later that morning.
“It’s a beautiful celebration,” she said. “The bagpipes with the sunrise coming over the hill and the crosses – it’s the most beautiful sight.”
The weather was better than in past years, she added. While it was chilly, it wasn’t windy or bitterly cold.
Still, Koster said, “It’s not a service to dress up for. It’s a service to dress warmly for.”
Lora Linford and her daughter Megan, 17, wrapped themselves in blankets to ward off the cold, but they were glad to be there. Lora Linford has come to the services since the beginning, when her father, former Councilman Gary Spinkelink, helped organize them.
Megan Linford said it’s a family tradition, but one that her 15-year-old brother missed this year, because he didn’t get out of bed.
Most attendees said it was the beginning of their religious celebration of the key Christian holiday that celebrates the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
Artist Montana Black and her friend Ken Gerard, who warded off the chill with coffee, said they do not believe in organized religion, but they appreciated the sunrise service nevertheless.
“It’s a wonderful time of renewal,” Black said. “All of us have the opportunity to rise to a higher state of ourselves. It’s a beautiful reminder of that.”
The service began with the melodies of bagpipe music accompanied by drums. Wes Hallam, his son Alex, 21, and his son’s best friend Brennan Tica, 20, have made playing for the service a tradition.
“We all enjoy it,” Tico said.
But they were not able to stay for the rest of the 45-minute celebration, because they had to prepare for their own services at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Jake and Joe Derby, 11 and 9 respectively, had received chocolate bunnies before heading out to the service with their father, Kent. They planned to go snowboarding later, the final day of snow sports at the Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort, Derby said.
It wasn’t too early for church services, Derby said, given the occasion.
“The day starts when the sun comes up,” he said. “No matter what, every day begins when the sun comes up.”
Doshia Hudson, who came with neighbors Connie and Barry Ogden, said it was worth getting her three children – Shaun Hudson, 14, Steven Davis, 11, and Christina Davis, 10, up before dawn.
“It was awesome,” she said.