Thousands watch sun rise on Easter Sunday at Lincoln Memorial service

People stand at the reflecting pond on Easter Sunday, 2019. (WTOP/Melissa Howell)
People stand at the reflecting pond on Easter Sunday, 2019. (WTOP/Melissa Howell) (WTOP/Melissa Howell)
Gatherers arrived before the sun came up on Easter Sunday, 2019.  (WTOP/Melissa Howell)
Gatherers arrived before the sun came up on Easter Sunday, 2019. (WTOP/Melissa Howell) (WTOP/Melissa Howell)
This Easter Sunday is the 41st annual service with Capital Church. (WTOP/Melissa Howell)
This Easter Sunday is the 41st annual service with Capital Church. (WTOP/Melissa Howell) (WTOP/Melissa Howell)
Church-goers line the entrance of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in D.C. on Easter Sunday, April 21, 2019. (WTOP/Keara Dowd) (WTOP/Keara Dowd)
First-time visitors attend the Washington National Cathedral’s afternoon Easter services. (WTOP/Abigail Constantino) (WTOP/Abigail Constantino)
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People stand at the reflecting pond on Easter Sunday, 2019. (WTOP/Melissa Howell)
Gatherers arrived before the sun came up on Easter Sunday, 2019.  (WTOP/Melissa Howell)
This Easter Sunday is the 41st annual service with Capital Church. (WTOP/Melissa Howell)

The tradition of holding an Easter Sunday sunrise service at the Lincoln Memorial continued Sunday, welcoming thousands for its 41st installment.

The annual ceremony, said by organizer Capital Church to be one of the nation’s largest Easter sunrise services, offered Christians an opportunity to celebrate Easter Sunday as the sun rose over the Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol.

Kelly and her daughter Claire came from Fairfax County, Virginia, attending the yearly event for the first time.

“I think last year was the first time I heard about it, and I said to her last night that I’d really like to go, and she said ‘I’ll go with you,’” said Kelly. “It’s just beautiful, I’m really enjoying it.”

For others, the service has become a family tradition. Loura Kelly and her husband have attended for the last five years. Despite an injury, Loura said nothing could have stopped her from coming out again.

“I sprained my foot yesterday, and I thought, ‘if God can die for me, I can get up and walk over and come to this service this morning,'” she said.

Jiatian Yue, visiting from California, said that with the service and the views of the Washington Monument, the gathering was one she’s glad she took the time to attend during her trip.

“It’s great, I’ve never seen the scenery this time of day before, and I didn’t expect this many people to show up … this is really great to see people coming out for Easter and the sunrise service.”

In Northeast D.C. at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the steps were packed to get into the church. The Martinson family from New Jersey said that they never miss the opportunity to visit the Roman Catholic church.

And in Northwest D.C. at the Washington National Cathedral, first-time cathedral visitors comprised half of afternoon Easter services attendees.

WTOP’s Keara Dowd and Abigail Constantino contributed to this report from Washington, D.C.

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