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Relay for Life of Franklin Luminaria Ceremony returns

While the COVID-19 pandemic is limiting the scope of the Relay for Life of Franklin Luminaria Ceremony this year, the ceremony itself will be making its return, advancing Relay for Life’s goal to celebrate cancer survivors, remember those who have passed away and fight back to create more survivors.

“We usually have a Relay for Life event here in Franklin, but we weren’t able to, of course, last year due to COVID,” said co-event lead Debbie Carter. “So this year, they told us that it would be best to just only plan for a luminaria ceremony instead of doing all the other things that we normally do, like the actual relay event and the survivor dinner. We won’t be doing those things this year.”

But the luminaria ceremony will take place Sept. 18 at Barrett’s Landing Park in Franklin from 6-9 p.m.

“The actual ceremony itself consists of just a program to tell people why we’re there that don’t know,” Carter said. “The ceremony usually opens with a survivor lap, which is awesome. It’s amazing to me how many survivors we have in our community.

“So we do that, and then the luminaria bags are already set up, so as the sun starts to go down, we light them, and Cecil Edwards is planning to be there to play some music, and we read all of the names that people have purchased bags for in honor or in memory of their loved ones. That’s a big deal here because everybody knows everybody.”

She said a couple of local pastors will pray at different times during the ceremony.

There will also be an opportunity for refreshments at the event.

“We’re planning to have Bojangles out there with the food trailer,” Carter said.

She noted that anybody anywhere is invited to the ceremony.

“We will have bags available for purchase that day,” she said, “because the last time we had it, people didn’t know, and they walked in and said, ‘What are you doing?’ And we told them. They were like, ‘Oh, can I get one now?’ 

To purchase a luminaria in honor or memory of a friend or loved one, contact Carter at 757-350-9267, or co-event lead Angela Denson at 757-562-2295, or drop by Century 21 on Armory Drive.

“The motto for Relay for Life is, ‘Celebrate. Remember. Fight back,’” Carter said. “So we’re celebrating the survivors, the ones of us that have won the battle against cancer, remembering those we’ve lost, and then fighting back, trying to fundraise to help support cancer research so hopefully we have more survivors and more birthdays.”