Dr. John Walker said he’s been stressing the importance of masks and other prevention measures while coaching Bishop McCort’s cheerleaders.
When he heard about Tuesday’s luminary display near the Stone Bridge, Walker thought the event was a teaching moment.
“I just think it’s important that kids realize what’s happening and remember the people who lost their lives,” Walker said along the Iron Street river wall.
Volunteers with In This Together Cambria and the 1889 Jefferson Center for Population Health placed 340 luminaries atop the wall – one for each county resident who died from COVID-19 through Tuesday.
Luminaries were placed in three rows, stretching from the Stone Bridge to Peoples Natural Gas Park.
“Lights of Remembrance: A Memorial for Cambria County COVID Victims” provided a visualization of the pandemic’s impact, cheerleader Kaitlyn Hindman said.
“This is a great way to show people that COVID-19 is actually serious, and they should take precautions,” she said.
In This Together Cambria members were looking for a way to call attention to the pandemic’s impact and honor those who died, said Shelley Johansson, director of marketing and communication at Johnstown Area Heritage Association.
“It has very much affected our community,” she said. “This is a community effort.”
Familiar symbolism of luminaries placed near the landmark Stone Bridge provided a focal point. The bridge was lit in red and yellow, the colors of COVID-19 remembrance.
Co-sponsored by the foundation and The Tribune-Democrat, the Lights of Remembrance event was streamed live on In This Together Cambria’s Facebook page to allow social distancing. Those who wanted to experience it in person were encouraged to observe from locations such as Point Park and Washington Street.