Local tradition brings a glow to holiday memories
For the last 14 years, Wasatch Lawns Memorial Park has put a reverent but festive glow on its grounds.
The glow comes from thousands of bagged luminaries placed throughout the grounds, along the paths and on each grave, and lit up on a December evening.
“The lights represent the memories for our loved ones that continue to glow during the holidays,” Wasatch Lawns event organizer Addison Sharp said.
This year, the grounds will be lit up on Saturday, Dec. 15, starting in the morning and remaining all evening.
Each luminary consists of a paper bag, partially filled with sand. The sand acts as dead weight against the wind and also provides a bed for a small LED (Light-emitting Diode) glowing light.
“We’ve done real candles in the past, but due to weather (if it’s rainy or snowy or windy), they’ll blow out,” Sharp said.
Last year Wasatch Lawns started using electronic LEDs that will stay lit throughout the evening and into the night, until the batteries die.
This year is no different, except that the cemetery is also marking its 100th year at its location at 3401 South Highland Drive with a record number of individual luminaries.
This year’s display will feature more than 10,000 luminaries, hand assembled by volunteers from local troubled youth programs and other youth.
In the past, the construction of the luminaries was done by public volunteers. Allowing troubled youths to participate is a new tradition.
“The kids have spent their Saturdays assembling the luminaries since before Halloween and will continue through the day of the event,” Sharp said.
By late November, it was becoming clear that more help was needed, and Olympus Jr. High School stepped up. About two dozen student body officers, class officers and cheerleaders spent their afternoon government class putting the luminaries together.
“We’ll come back on Dec. 11 and then again on the Saturday of the display,” student body officer adviser Cindy Fulton said.
On the morning of the event, the students and dozens of other local volunteers will be placing luminaries throughout the park.
“We will start placing luminaries at 10 a.m. We get help from the local community, businesses, schools and youth groups,” Sharp said.
The facility has contacted many local groups directly and is encouraging the public to help disperse the lights in the morning.
“We’re hoping to be finished not later than two in the afternoon, but we’ll be there as long it takes,” Sharp said.
Each gravesite will be decorated with a luminary, while unused areas of the park will have lights distributed somewhat randomly.
The mortuary will provide hot chocolate for the volunteers.
Then, at 5 p.m., music will play, and thousands of visitors will walk or drive the grounds to see the display. At the mortuary, kids and adults are invited for cocoa and to make Christmas card ornaments.
“We will have a memory tree to hang ornaments in memory of loved ones that have passed away,” Sharp said.
To volunteer to distribute the lamps in the park, contact Addison Sharp at 801-466-8667 or firstname.lastname@example.org.