OAKLAND — For the second year, a local event known as Blue Christmas will be held to bring comfort to those suffering loss or loneliness during the holiday season.

Blue Christmas ceremonies are held globally and represent what Monica Wilcox Charette describes as the “paradox” that is this time of year for those who have experienced loss.

People gather in December 2021 at Oakland Waterfront Park for a Blue Christmas ceremony, meant to bring comfort to those grieving during the holiday season. This year’s event will be held Wednesday at the same location. Courtesy photo

“It’s a time of so much joy that just contrasts so sharply I think with the sadness and loneliness that, in some ways, we all feel,” she said Tuesday.

Charette has organized a Blue Christmas gathering for 6 p.m. Wednesday in Oakland.

Charette knows herself just how tough the holidays can be, having experienced the death of her 17-year-old daughter Cassidy in a hayride accident in 2014.

Through a foundation Charette created to honor her daughter’s legacy of community service, ShineOnCass, she organized the town’s first Blue Christmas ceremony last year to support others through their grief. The ceremony is traditionally held on Dec. 21, the winter solstice — “the longest, darkest night of the year,” Charette said.


Organizers have been collecting submissions for names to be read aloud during the ceremony. During the event, as each name is read, their loved ones can light a blue candle — which will be handed out by organizers beforehand — and honor their memory.

About 100 people came to the ceremony last year where they read 80 names. Charette said this year there are at least 180 names.

Charette encourages people to attend even if they’re not grieving the death of a loved one. Loss is a broad term, she said, encompassing people who are going through struggles such as divorce, addiction, physical and mental health problems, or poverty.

“You don’t need to have lost someone to be a part of this, we just want people to know they are not alone however they’re grieving,” she said. “And we also just want people who can come and support those who are having a difficult time during the season.”

The event will be around 30 minutes long and include music from local artists Will Pherson and the Messalonskee Master Singers. Canadian country singer Joan Kennedy will also team up with her daughter to perform an original song, “Candle in the Window.”

The Blue Christmas ceremony will take place at the gazebo at Oakland Waterfront Park, which was dedicated to Cassidy when it was built.

The event also will be streamed live on Facebook from the www.facebook.com/shineoncass page.

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