Inspired by a village, it takes a village to prepare for this evening’s annual Candlelight Memorial Service at Venice Memorial Gardens.

This morning, nearly 100 volunteers will place some 6,000 luminaries throughout the cemetery in preparation for this evening’s Candlelight Memorial Service. They and others will light the luminaries this afternoon and collect the luminaries on Sunday morning.

“We started it because I saw a whole community that had done that, Venice Memorial Gardens founder David Farley said. “I said ‘wait a minute, we have streets and lots. Our lots are smaller.’ So we tried it and it was a success. Even the staff gets into it.”

Venice Memorial Gardens provides breakfast and lunch for the volunteers. Many of the same people come back year after year to insure the success of this event.

“One lady used to fly in from Colorado every year because her mother was buried here,” Farley said. “It takes a couple hours to get it (the event) all put together and place the candles and another couple hours to get them all lighted. They start that about 2 p.m. or 3 p.m.”

This is the 26th annual event to honor those who have passed on this past year and also benefit the Salvation Army via a free-will offering.

“It is a wonderful and inspiring event,” Farley said.

The event is coordinated by Venice Memorial Gardens and Farley Funeral Homes and Crematory. Farley, who also is a long-time member of the advisory board of The Salvation Army of Venice, always is one of the helpers for the event.

The public is invited to drive through Venice Memorial Gardens beginning at 6 p.m. this evening, Dec. 8, to enjoy the spectacle of all those luminaries, roses in bloom and the music of harp and flute performers.

Those who wish to attend the 7 p.m. remembrance service are invited to park next door at Venice Middle School from which shuttles will transport attendees to the seating area for the service, which will be led by Pastor Robin Hager of the Grace United Methodist Church in Venice. After the service, attendees will be transported back to their cars in the school parking lot.

The names of all who have been entrusted to the cemetery’s care the past year will be read aloud and those served by Farley Funeral Homes and Crematory will be remembered with their names on a continuously scrolling screen.

Aaron Miller will provide seasonal music throughout the service which will include guest speakers from Tidewell Hospice and The Salvation Army.

Volunteers are welcome to help with any aspect of the event: morning set up today, candle lighting this afternoon or luminaria removal tomorrow morning. Email: Marjorie@VeniceMemorialgardens.com or call 941-493-4248 to register or learn more. The cemetery is at 1950 Center Road, Venice FL 34292.

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