COOKSBURG, Pa. (EYT) – The Cook Forest Easter Sunrise Service is a tradition that has continued to bring people together on Easter for 69 years.
(Photos by Dave Cyphert of ProPoint Media Photography.)
According to Ron Flick, Chairman of the Cook Forest Easter Sunrise Service Committee, the event began as a joint effort between the Leeper Men’s Club and the Leeper Women’s Club, along with the help of Verna Leith, 69 years ago.
“They just had wonderful cooperation from the state park and the even has gone on ever since,” Flick told exploreClarion.com.
“The committee has changed along the line, but we’ve continued to have great cooperation from the state park.”
This year’s event featured an invocation, scripture reading, and benediction by Rev. Dr. Jonathan Bell, the pastor of Good Shepherd United Methodist Church, and a message titled “Incarnation – Crucifixion – Resurrection” by Rev. Mark Micklos, a semi-retired pastor who formerly served full-time at Fern Trinity Evangelical Congregational Church, and currently serves part-time at the Oil City Vinyard Church in the area of Pastoral care and teaching.
The program also featured flag raising and lowering services by Trail Life USA, Troop PA-1003, as well as vocal performances by Brenda Mishler, of Brookville, and Lauren Snyder, of Clarion, and piano music provided by Miranda Loll, the Organist and Music Director at Faith Lutheran Church in Venus.
While finding individuals willing and available to provide the prayers, readings, and messages each year, as well as the music, has proven challenging at times, Flick said the committee always manages to cover the event.
“We’ve never had to cancel and not have the service,” he noted.
Even though the weather doesn’t always cooperate, and there have been years they’ve had to bring in tractors to plow snow off of the field to set up the chairs, the annual service has soldiered on.
“There was one year where on Saturday when we were setting up, there were children playing in part of the field. Then Sunday morning, where we have the three crosses set up, there was the biggest snowman I’ve ever seen. It was at least six or seven feet tall. We had to take pictures of it!”
Even the advent of technology hasn’t slowed the event. A number of years ago, it began being broadcast over the radio by a station in DuBois, however after the station changed hands, they declined to continue the broadcast, and C-93 Radio in Clarion took over. This year, exploreClarion.com provided an online live stream of the event.
Even with those options available, Flick says the event has continued to grow, with this year’s crowd estimated at between 300 and 350 people.
The service itself is non-denominational and Flick says the committee is always open to input from anyone and everyone.
“Anyone who has a suggestion for speakers or soloists, we’re more than willing to consider them, and we’re always looking for more help.”