Weather doesn’t cloud Easter spirit

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Thousands attend the annual holiday service at Red Rocks

By Deborah Swearingen

The sun might not have shown up for the 71st annual Easter sunrise service on Sunday at Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre, but thousands of people did.


A thick fog covered the rocks, blocking any glimpse of the morning sun, and attendees bundled together as a cold wind whipped through the air.

Among those braving the temperatures were Ethan Moody and Daralyne Davis of Denver, who arrived early and huddled together in one of the first rows of the amphitheater. It was their first Easter sunrise service, and they came in support of Rev. Tawana Davis. The reverend, Davis’ mother and Moody’s grandmother, delivered the sermon at the event. Tawana Davis is co-founder of Soul 2 Soul, LLC, a faith-based racial justice organization focused on black healing, and a retired itinerant elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Hosted by the Colorado Council of Churches, the nondenominational, Christian service draws people from across the state and metro Denver area to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and sing songs of praise. Gates open at 4:30 a.m., and worshippers often arrive early in hopes of nabbing a seat with a view.

Looking out from the stage, Adrian Miller, executive director of Colorado Council of Churches, was impressed with the audience’s commitment.

“I can tell y’all love the Lord ‘cause it’s a little chilly,” Miller said, inciting laughter.

Another first time event-goer was Anita Bilby with Argus Event Staffing, who worked security at the sunrise service. She arrived to Red Rocks before 4 a.m., but was happy to take part in the yearly tradition.

“I thought it would be really pretty and nice,” she said.

“Normally, I’m just getting home,” Bilby said with a laugh, alluding to late nights working concerts. “Now, I’m getting up.”

Keith “Scramble” Campbell has painted more than 400 shows at Red Rocks, including a number of Easter sunrise services. Last Sunday was no different, and a long canvas perched on his easel awaiting the glorious morning colors that often paint the red rocks pink.

The colors never came, but with a feather in his hat, Campbell continued to paint.

“It’s a passage to come up here for Easter,” he said.

Miller agreed, calling the sunrise service a bucket list item for many.

“It’s a spectacular venue, and it’s a spectacular service full of praise to celebrate our risen Christ,” he said.

Contact reporter Deborah Swearingen at dswearingen@evergreenco.com or 303-350-1042. Follow her on Twitter @djswearingen.