Small paper lanterns, each containing a tiny, lit candle, were launched into the Arrington Lagoon Tuesday evening, as a way of remembering those lost in the COVID-19 pandemic over the last two years.

The lantern ceremony is an Asian tradition, according to Angela Lyonsmith, of the non-profit “Kids Create Change,” which organized the event.

“Lantern festivals in Asia are a meaningful ritual,” Lyonsmith added.

The Arrington ceremony was held on the last day of Asian/South Asian/Pacific Islander heritage month.

Honoring those who have passed is just one of many ways lanterns are used ceremonially in Asia and the Pacific.

In her case, Lyonsmith said, “I definitely lost the life of a dear friend” to COVID.

Other attendees had family members who had close calls with the virus.

Joshua and Emily York brought their children, three-year-old twins Aiden and Evelyn, and six-year-old Elijah, to put lanterns into the lagoon.

The York family. Children are holding lanterns which they will launch into the lagoon.

Both Joshua’s and Emily’s parents came down with COVID.

“My dad didn’t do very well,” Emily said, and had to be hospitalized for several days.

Fortunately, he and the other parents all got over their illnesses.

About 100 people were at the lagoon. Many made lanterns with materials provided by the event’s organizers.

Lanterns were decorated with names of those whom people wanted to remember, as well as symbols of peace and friendship, and flags of Asian nations.

The lantern ceremony, Lyonsmith said, was an “opportunity to be together” and share the sense of loss and grief for those claimed by COVID.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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