Releasing lanterns to remember loved ones lost

First Posted: 10/13/2014

Four years ago Sherry Jenkins, of Shavertown, stopped in at Pizza Perfect in Trucksville and bought from Pizza Paul a memory lantern for her Dad Wally Zolner, who had passed away.

“I started thinking,” she said, “I could do something with this. It’s like the Catholic remembrance on All Souls Day when you light candles on graves but better.”

Jenkins took the idea to the Huntsville Christian Church where she attends and, three years ago, the church held its first lantern release at the Harveys Lake Beach Club, attracting over 100 people.

Last year over 300 people attended.

The church provides food, live entertainment, homemade desserts, raffle prizes and the lantern, making the $5 fee a real bargain.

Chloe George, of Dallas, has a memory lantern dedicated to her great-grandmother.

“She was like a second mother to me and died last year at 89 and would have really liked this,” George said of her great-grandmother.

The best part of the release program is that the proceeds are given to local organizations. Jenkins said the first year the church donated to the Back Mountain Food Pantry, the second year it gave to the Hope Center. This year, Camp Orchard Hill and Pathways, of Kingston, a program for homeless pregnant women, are the beneficiaries.

Jenkins says the lantern release is often dedicated to deceased relatives but could easily represent the release of emotion -like joy and celebration of the release from an addiction of any kind.

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