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History of the Luminaria Ceremony-Rely for Life

In 1987, Seattle was preparing for their first Relay For Life. They had arranged for lights, but discovered at about noon on the day of the event, for some reason, the lights weren’t going to work. As you can imagine, the committee was fit to be tied.

One of the members suggested lining the track with luminaria bags to enable the participants to see the track as they walked or ran. The committee immediately purchased what they needed to implement the “luminaria light” idea. When they lit the candles in the bag that night, it changed the atmosphere at the track. The soft lighting was conducive to talking about why everyone was there-to fight cancer and honor those who had survived and those who had lost the battle.

The next year, the Relay For Life of Tacoma Committee (who had heard about what a beautiful experience the candles had produced) and a few other Relay committees included a luminaria ceremony, honoring cancer survivors and remembering those who had lost the battle. Everyone who had taken part in the ceremony was deeply touched. The ceremony kept growing in popularity and eventually became a part of Relay For Life across the country.

The American Cancer Society Relay For Life in Madison County will  hold their luminaria ceremony at dusk the evening of June 12, 2009 at the Fredericktown High School Track. Contact any Relay team member or call Conita Follis at 783-2361 to purchase one or more luminaries in honor or memory of a loved one or friend. Luminaries can also be done early the evening of the Relay.

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