CINCINNATI - Hundreds of decorated paper lanterns lit up the lake as darkness fell at Spring Grove Cemetery Saturday night, each one symbolizing a loved one lost.
The 14th annual Lantern Lighting ceremony gives people across the Tri-State an opportunity to honor their loved ones who have passed on.
People started arriving hours ahead of time, claiming their spots around the lake. They brought personalized lanterns bearing words of remembrance and hope to float on the water.
"This is a way to connect back with positive memories,” said Gary Freytag, president of Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum. “And so, I think it's a combination of a great place to remember someone, and an event that encourages positive memories of people we've lost."
"It means the world to us to do this," said Karen Minning. She came to honor her father-in-law, Elmer, and her dad.
“He was a Cincinnati fireman,” Minning said.
David Walsh's parents and sister are buried here at Spring Grove. He came to celebrate their lives.
"The day after we buried my mother, my sister unexpectedly passed away. That was quite a shock - two deaths in the immediate family," Walsh said. “Death can be obviously trying and emotional. This is a way to set it in a positive framework. It's emotionally and aesthetically moving."
The process of putting the lanterns into the water is "literally letting go,” Walsh said.
“Seeing the lanterns float on the lake, it's very special," he said.
"It's the prettiest thing you've ever seen,” Minning said. “When it gets dark, and the lanterns go out there, it's just beautiful.
"I know they're looking down on us saying thank you. I know that for a fact,” Minning said.