The Easter Sunrise Service evokes a joyful sense of community for some and a sacred pilgrimage for others.
“It was pure joy, something I wished I experienced sooner,” said Islander Rosemary Tolliver who was overwhelmed the first time she attended six years ago.
Tolliver tries to gets there early to watch as the people stream down the beach. She enjoys seeing the different collections of people from various walks of life, families and neighbors gathering and discovering each other in the crowd.
“It’s dark when you get there,” she said. “The boats have lights on and it’s exciting to see the sun rise between the buildings.” She is happy that all denominations are welcome.
She prepares the night before by putting her beach chair in the car, and laying out her water bottle and thermos for coffee, clothes, beach hoodie and sunglasses.
It’s relaxed, and everyone is welcome. She enjoys hearing from the different ministers and there is no collection. “All that happiness and joy, and they ask for nothing.”
Tolliver always carries the joy forward. “If you feel good you can transmit that joy to others.”
JoAnn Criss Krejci and Larry Krejci have been attending the servicealmost since the very beginning. They look forward to attending this year as a married couple. The two have been friends for over 40 years. She was a widow for 11 years and he was widowed for one year; they married last summer. Over the years, they have attended many sunrise services, but this is the first one “that you don’t freeze to death.”
JoAnn appreciates the uniquely beautiful setting while Larry finds it inspiring. “You will not find a more beautiful setting.”
Walking down the beach in the dark, with a chair on her back, and listening to the music is like a pilgrimage for JoAnn. “Everyone is so quiet and reverent,” she said. “Afterwards you leave recommitted to living the way we should.”
Larry looks forward to communing with the people and the Lord. “Everyone is in a joyous frame of mind,” he said. “You can feel the Spirit of God at the service.”
JoAnn’s advise for newcomers: “Be prepared for an unforgettable experience.”
Corky and Shirley Trebilcock have attended nearly every sunrise service since 1990. The couple loved going to sunrise services back in Ohio, but they were always indoors. They moved into their Madeira penthouse in2007 and are just tickled that the service is right outside their balcony.
“The unique service is hard to get anywhere else,” he said. “The sky, the boats and the breeze build as the sun rises.”
Although they can watch the service from their balcony, the Trebilcocks prefer to be a part of the action. Two-thirds of their family lives on Marco, so it will be a family affair. They listen to the music and watch the people stream down the beach with their flashlights before it’s time to descend and set their chairs up on the beach.
“It warms my heart to be with the crowd sharing the spiritual aspect of the day,” Corky concluded.
If you go:
What: Marco Island’s 26th Annual Easter Sunrise Service on the Beach
When: 7 a.m., Sunday, April 20, prelude begins at 6:45 a.m.
Where: Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort, 400 South Collier Boulevard, Marco Island
Beach Access: North of the Marriott Spa and the public access north of the Madeira Condominium
Participating clergy: The Rev. Kirk Dreiser, Wesley United Methodist Church; the Rev. Thomas McCulley, New Life Community Church; and the Rev. Dr. Steven Schoof, Marco Presbyterian Church
Guest soloist: Dawn Birch of Billy Dean and Dawn
What to Bring: Blanket or chair