OAKLAND — The ShineOnCass Foundation plans to host a community Blue Christmas ceremony for grieving families and friends, and those who support them, at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 21, on the Winter Solstice — the longest and darkest night of the year. Light the Night will be held around the Oakland Gazebo at the Waterfront Park. It will feature music, speakers, along with a reading of submitted names of loved ones’ lost and the lighting of memorial blue candles.

Blue Christmas ceremonies are held around the world in acknowledgement that the holiday season can be difficult for many who are grieving.

Joan Kennedy Contributed photo

“So many people are acquainted with the paradox of the holiday season — a time when celebrations of peace and joy contrast sharply with the sadness and loneliness that come with loss,” said Monica Charette, executive director of the ShineOnCass Foundation, in a news release from the foundation. “Our hope is to provide a comforting space where people feel supported, loved, and less alone in their grief.”

In addition to the blue light ceremony, the evening will also feature music by local musicians and a special appearance by award-winning country recording artist Joan Kennedy, who will perform “Candle in the Window.”

Cassidy Charette Contributed photo

Charette said the idea to host a community Blue Christmas ceremony came from a gathering organized by her friends after the passing of her 17-year-old daughter Cassidy Charette, seven years ago. Cass, for whom the nonprofit ShineOnCass Foundation was created to honor, was a Messalonskee High School student and longtime community volunteer. She died in a tragic hayride accident on Oct. 11, 2014.

“It was incredibly meaningful how people came together to support our family at this service, acknowledge our grief, and stand beside us during a very dark and lonely time,” Charette said. “We want to share that experience with others in our community, give them hope, and help people feel less alone.”

Anyone in the community can participate by sharing their loved one’s name being remembered, and receiving a blue candle to light at the ceremony. People are also welcome to attend in silent remembrance and offer support to others. To complete the online form, visit Light the Night: Blue Christmas on the foundation’s website shineoncass.org. Forms are also available at the Oakland Town Office. In case of inclement weather, Light the Night will be held one day later, on Dec. 22.

For more information, email [email protected] or call 207-314-6996.

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