Kenova lights tree, remembers loved ones
KENOVA -- The 12,000 lights on the 32-foot Fraser fir were aglow Monday night in Kenova as the power was turned on during the sixth annual City of Kenova Memorial Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.
The tree was planted in 1995 and made a part of a memorial ceremony in 2006, by Charlotte Webb, whose son, Michael Scott Webb, died in a car accident a year earlier.
Each year, residents add the names of friends and loved ones who have passed on so they remain part of the Christmas season.
"They'll never be forgotten," said Cinda Endicott, whose sister-in-law and mother are both listed on the tree. "(It makes it easier) because you are remembering loved ones and not leaving them out."
Kenova Mayor Ric Griffith described the tree and the meaning, becoming emotional thinking about his own departed dad. And he said everyone at the service, held at Kenova United Methodist, was connected by the same grief.
"We are one people. We may not live our lives intimately, but we share common things," Griffith said. "And tonight is one of those things we share."
He said memories of loved ones and the smiles they still bring to faces is symbolic of what Christmas is all about. Like the memories that can't be hidden, Jesus was the light of the world that could not be covered by darkness.
Keith Hayner said he appreciated the ceremony, as he and a number of family members were there to support his grandmother as they remembered his grandfather, Donald Watts.
At Christmas, Hayner said his grandfather was always the one who cooked the big meal. He was hardworking, caring and had a smile that lit up the room.
"He got a lot of joy out of his great-grandchildren before he died," Hayner said.
The ceremony also included several songs by the C-K Alumni Band, including "Silent Night" as the lights were turned down and people held candles.
Steve Willis, pastor of First Baptist Church of Kenova, read the Christmas story from the gospel of Luke.
At the end, attendees made the procession to the corner of 14th and Chestnut streets in Kenova, where the lights were turned on the tree.