HALEYVILLE- The Easter sunrise service at Winston Memorial Cemetery in Haleyville will return this year after a two-year hiatus necessitated by COVID-19.
“We really missed it the last two years,” said Shorty Burrell, owner of Winston Memorial, adding that the service had been canceled for those years because of the state’s emergency order suspending large public gatherings.
He said anywhere from 500-700 people typically attended in the years before the pandemic, including visitors from other states including California, Indiana and Ohio.
The service’s return this year will be a resumption of a tradition that is more than half a century old. Burrell said that Easter services have been held in the cemetery since 1966, when they were true sunrise services that were held at dawn with people arriving in the dark to attend.
Originally, they were held in the mausoleum, which would accommodate a hundred people, he said, with everyone else having to stand outside. In 2004, Burrell bought the 40 x 100’ tent that is now used. Five hundred people can be seated under it.
This year, the non-denominational service will include singing and a sermon from Bro. Keith Hood of the Union Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Haleyville.
The community is invited to arrive at 7 a.m. to enjoy finger foods and coffee together, Burrell said. The refreshments will be served in the mausoleum. The service itself will be from 8-9 a.m., giving worshippers time to attend services at their various churches later in the morning.
Each year, the service is sponsored by various local businesses, many of whom, according to Burrell, do not want public recognition for their support.
See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.