With the 15th anniversary of September 11 falling on a Sunday this year, the organizers of the city's annual candlelight observance have changed the time to permit those who attend church to do so before heading for the Circle.
With 2,976 candles to light representing the victims of the terrorist attacks in 2001, Fire Chief Mike Passarelli says assistance is needed to set up the candles beginning at 12:30 p.m. The Rev. Mike Matusz, pastor of Our Lady of Victory Church, is scheduled to offer an invocation at 1 p.m.
"Along with Rev. William Michaels, pastor of St. Mark Lutheran Church and the Tallmadge Police and Fire Chaplain, it is our intention to honor those who serve in police and fire at this year's remembrance at Tallmadge Circle," Matusz said.
The candles which will line the sidewalks of Tallmadge Circle Park and burn for 24 hours will include: 343 red candles for fire department personnel; 60 blue candles for police personnel; 55 green candles for military personnel; and 2,518 white candles for civilians.
"Every one of those candles represents a life," the fire chief says, "and when you see the scene, it's overwhelming. You go out of there with a lump in your throat and a tear in your eye."
Passarelli says he has contacted the 28 churches in the city, asking them to encourage their members to attend the observance; everyone, churchgoers or not, Tallmadge residents or not, are welcome, he stresses. The fire chief encourages attendees to bring along their own lighters since they're bound to be in short supply that afternoon.
"There are people who come to the Circle all night long in order to relight candles that have blown out," Passarelli says. "It's heartwarming the way they keep the vigil for the victims."
Donations from the community, local businesses and unions provide funds to purchase the specially-made candles from A.I. Root Candle Co. of Medina. Each candles lasts approximately five years.