We returned to Petersburg to enjoy the three-day-long celebration for the Fourth of July – a real old-fashioned family event. The highlights were to be the parade and the log rolling contest, capped off by fireworks later in the evening.
We went beachcombing in the morning on July 4th, rushing back to downtown in time for the parade at 11am, but there was no parade… just little groups of people looking somber or sad. We finally found someone we knew and asked what was going on, and they told us that there had been a car accident earlier in the morning. Two girls, aged 18 and 19 lost their lives and two others in the car were injured. One of the girls who died just graduated from Petersburg High a month ago, and the other graduated last year. These good, hard-working young people were working for Parks and Recreation, setting up for the day’s events when the accident occurred. The anguish around town is overwhelming and heartbreaking.
All the day’s events were cancelled, of course, except for the fireworks which would create a safety challenge to disassemble. The town organized a brief prayer service in the evening in the middle of downtown, and then we all – hundreds of people filling block after block of the streets – carried candles and walked up to the ball field where 80 sky lanterns were released into the night. It was very moving and beautiful. The fireworks followed – a little ease for heavy hearts.
So many people that we care about are struggling with difficult situations here and elsewhere, and every day we pray that they find healing and comfort.