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Shining Bright

Community remembers those lost to COVID

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Sandy and Mike Wachter hold candles Friday night along Market Street between Third and Fourth avenues in Warren.

Dozens of people turned out at 7 p.m. — 19:00 hours — on Friday, Feb. 19, to support those whose lives have been impacted by COVID-19.

Those in attendance lined Market Street in downtown Warren shining their lights –candles, flashlights, cell phones, and even images of candles on cell phones — and some hold signs as bells chimed all over town and as far away as North Warren for 19 minutes.

The event was organized by First Presbyterian Church.

“We’re trying to show our support… everybody’s life has been impacted by COVID-19,” Pastor Rebecca Taylor said. “We wanted to bring the community together and line the streets with light, especially for the medical community, first responders, and anyone who suffered with or lost loved ones to COVID.”

“It started with a question,” Taylor said. “The question was, ‘what can we do to show our support?'”

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Mike and Ashley Taraska hold candles Friday night at the corner of Market Street and Third Avenue in Warren.

The church’s Pathfinders immediately started tossing around ideas. “It became a community vigil with no agenda other than to show our lights of love.”

“The group is so community focused,” Lacy Ruhlman said.

The church reached out knowing there would be a positive response.

“This community consistently shows up,” Ruhlman said. “The community is always reaching out in these new and wonderful ways.”

“It’s very exciting and really humbling to be able to show our support for those who have been hit hardest,” Ruhlman said.

Taylor said she spoke with leaders at eight local churches about ringing bells during the event.

Ashley and Mike Taraska were at the southeast corner of Market Street and Third Avenue.

“I work in the emergency room, so that’s very close to me,” Ashley said. “We also lost a friend to COVID.”

Mike had an additional reason for attending. “I’m here to support my wife and people with COVID,” he said.

Colby and Ali Clark brought their daughters, Piper and Brook, to the event. “I am here so my wife, as a front-line worker, could see and feel the gratitude the people are showing,” Colby said.

Piper is looking forward to a time when “we don’t have to wear masks anymore.”

Sandy and Mike Wachter held their candles just north of the church.

“We’re here to support the vigil and remember the people that have perished and to hope for better days,” Sandy said.

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