The transcendent, fleeting beauty of more than 6,000 candles illuminating a cemetery on a winter’s eve returns to Ogden this week.
The annual Service to Remember and Luminaries will be held on Friday evening at Leavitt’s Mortuary & Aultorest Memorial Park, 836 36th St., in Ogden.
Each year, for one evening, Leavitt employees put out more than 6,000 small brown-paper bags — each illuminated by a lighted candle — throughout the cemetery. The display draws lines of vehicles during the evening, snaking through the cemetery grounds.
“It’s just something I came up with 30 years ago — I wanted to do something special,” said Mike Leavitt, mortuary owner and president. “When people lose a loved one, they need something special to help them in remembering.”
The candles will be on display throughout the evening on Friday.
Along with the luminaria display, the mortuary will also offer a remembrance service at 6 p.m. Friday in the mortuary’s chapel, next to the cemetery. Leavitt said they’ve been hosting the Service to Remember for about the last six or seven years.
“This year, we’ll have the Ogden High School Choir singing, and we usually invite a pastor, priest or bishop to come in and give some nice words,” Leavitt said. “We’ll also have candles up at the front of the chapel, and we invite anyone to come up and light a candle in remembrance of a loved one.”
Both the luminaria display and the memorial service are free and open to the public.
Leavitt said it takes staff members between five and six hours to place the luminarias in the cemetery.
The rewarding part, according to Leavitt, is hearing how much the annual display means to people who’ve lost loved ones.
“We’ll be standing out there, talking, and people who drove through will stop and get out and give us a big hug,” he said. “They’ll be in tears and they’ll say, ‘You don’t know what this has done for me.’
“That’s what means everything to us.”
Leavitt said he feels like the display and service are giving back to the community. And he believes the event is particularly “huge” at this time of the year.
“The holidays is really a hard time for family members who lost a loved one,” Leavitt said. “And this just brings back something into their hearts of remembering the holidays and special times with those loved ones.”