The sun hadn’t yet begun to rise when the Rev. Mark Twietmeyer of Trinity Lutheran Church unloaded a towering, wooden cross from his pickup truck and plunged it into the frozen shore of the Boulder Reservoir.
When the shofar rang out at precisely 6:52 a.m., a crowd of worshippers, huddled in blankets, scarves and hats, had congregated for the annual Easter Sunrise Service. Trinity Lutheran Church has celebrated the holiday this way for the past 21 years.
“This is such a cool tradition,” said 19-year-old Mae Grigsby, who has attended the service every year since she was a child.
As Twietmeyer and the Rev. Martin Lettow, a preacher from Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church who co-led the service, began their message of hope and faith, the sun started to creep over the horizon. It was radiating light and warmth by the time the congregation had sung the final bars of the first hymn.
Armed against the frigid wind with hot chocolate and extra quilts, many in attendance were honoring an Easter tradition.
“This is part of the hope to bring more light into my life,” said Petter Hagemark, a Shepherd of the Hills congregation member from Longmont. “It’s a refreshing break from the norm.”
Hagemark has been a part of the Shepherd of the Hills community for more than 20 years. His daughter Gabrielle,who was with him Sunday, spent most Easter mornings growing up worshipping at the reservoir.
“It’s freezing,” 19-year-old Gabrielle said. “But it’s so nice when the sun comes up.”
Thousands of worshippers were snowed out of the 2016 Easter Sunrise Service at Red Rocks Ampitheatre, which was cancelled in the wake of Wednesday’s blizzard.
Lettow said he thought the cancellation would draw more people to Boulder’s small service, but the turnout was lower than in previous years. The 2015 service brought about 150 worshippers out. This year, roughly 85 showed up.
“I think the weather psyched people out,” he said. “Last year, Easter was later, and it was a little warmer.”
Kay Norby Fial, a 56-year-old Boulder resident, said the icy temperatures almost kept her from coming. But she didn’t regret waking up early when she saw the clear skies and beaming sun.
“It was a perfect day for it,” she said. “This service brings a lot of meaning to the whole day.”
Katy Canada: 303-954-1043, firstname.lastname@example.org or @KatySusanna