Tinian officially joined this month’s worldwide candlelight vigil that commemorates deceased siblings and children.
Called “Dancing in the Sky,” the event was held on Tinian on Dec. 11, 2016, starting at 6pm. Approximately 40 participants gathered at the Tinian Gymnasium to light candles and walk to the Antonio M. Borja Amphitheater where the main event was held. The Tinian High School Class of 2018 helped with playing the guitar and singing during the walk.
Organizer Tania Mendiola said, “I lost my 16-year-old son in July this year. To grieve for a child is the hardest thing to go through. A few parents who have also lost a child would talk to me and we would share how we felt. They mentioned having a support group. That sparked my interest, so I did some research online and found Compassionate Friends. Everything else just took off from there.”
A non-profit organization, Team Koka, also found a way to assist by purchasing a Christmas tree and ornaments from Compassionate Friends of Saipan. Upon purchase, guests were allowed to pick a photo of a loved one, which is then printed on the ornament, as well as a special message. All decorations were placed on the Christmas tree during the candlelight vigilon Dec. 11.
Families were able to purchase ornaments for $5 each to raise awareness and funds for muscular dystrophy.
“I love the idea of the candlelight vigil every year in December on Saipan, Guam, the mainland, and many other countries around the world. I thought that this would be a good way to help parents, like myself, to cope with their loss, especially during the holidays,” Mendiola said.
The event honored 56 loved ones, and not just siblings or children.