Wilmette, Community

Residents urged to join a candlelight tribute to COVID-19 victims at 8 p.m. on New Year’s Eve

Yesterday, Tuesday, Dec. 29, the 3,708 reported COVID-19 deaths marked a single-day high of coronavirus deaths in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The record total brought the grim national sum of coronavirus deaths to at least 338,544 people in under 10 months.

On a night reserved for reflection, many North Shore residents will honor those 338,544 with a candlelight vigil adjusted for the pandemic era.

According to multiple residents and posts on social media, residents are encouraged to step outside their home at 8 p.m. on New Year’s Eve — Thursday, Dec. 31 — and hold a lit candle in tribute to “all those we had to say goodbye to, as well as the hope with which we enter 2021,” according to a post from Wilmette’s Malaika Myers.

The post, as of publication time, had hundreds of reactions and dozens of comments, mostly from area residents confirming they’d like to participate

Many of the commenters wrote about a loved one who died because of COVID-19 and praised Myers’ idea.

More than 16,000 people died from COVID-19 in Illinois, according to state data, and more than 8,000 of those victims from the Chicago metro area.

Lilly Mouzayanni, of Wilmette, will light a candle and step outside on Thursday evening.

“I thought it was a very good idea,” she told The Record. “We are all isolated and not doing anything to be gathered with family members or in large groups. … This is a good idea to remember everybody that passed away or everybody who has suffered from this disease. It is something memorable I can do to pay my share to what the community has lost.”

The grassroots event has spread beyond Wilmette, as neighbors in Northfield, Evanston, Kenilworth and even Florida have confirmed participation.

Chaya Rubenstein, of Northfield, has helped spread the word in her hometown and through members with the League of Women Voters.

Here is text from Malaika Myers’ original post:

“I know it’s been a trying year for everyone in the world. Many of us have lost loved ones to Covid-19 and all of us have had our lives upended. There will be no new year’s eve parties this year, no fancy dresses, and no count down in cheering crowds. We will go back to these type of celebrations next year, but I wanted to suggest a different way we might end 2020.

“I invite you to bundle up and step out of your home with a lit candle from 8:00pm to 8:10pm on December 31st. The candle represents all those that we had to say goodbye to in 2020, as well as the hope with which we enter 2021.”

joe coughlin
Joe Coughlin

Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319

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