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Coronavirus leads to cancellation of 103-year-old Easter Sunday tradition in Palm Springs


Through world wars and economic downturns, it’s an event that has taken place every year for the past 102 years at the base of the San Jacinto Mountains at the O’donnell Golf Club in Palm Springs. 

Because of coronavirus, worshippers will not be gathering for the sunrise service this year.

“The change and the difference this Easter Sunday, as from any other Sunday, is really hard for the church body,” said Rob Goodwin, pastor at Our Savior’s Church in Palm Springs.   

Goodwin’s church has sponsored the service for the past 20 years.

While disappointed with this year’s cancellation. the pastor certainly understands and supports the county orders preventing this year’s celebration.

“We know that this is disappointing that the service is not taking place,” said Goodwin.   

The pastor says during the early years, the service was a “community-wide” event, drawing a multi-ethnic crowd, including valley tribal members.  

A choir from the University of Redlands participated.

During World War II, Goodwin says the service was broadcast by radio to a nationwide audience.

“it was a big part of what this community was.  There were hundreds, almost a thousand people coming to this event,”  said Goodwin.  

In recent years, Goodwin says the event would draw upwards of 450 people.

This year, he’ll be the only person showing up at the site.

Goodwin says he’ll be at the golf club and will begin video recording his Easter message at sunrise Sunday morning, and plans to play back the message on Facebook later that morning at 10:00.

“So we can still celebrate Easter the same way we always have, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and knowing that doesn’t change,” said Goodwin.  

The former corporate executive says he and pastors at about 25 other valley churches were looking to collaborate for this year’s service.

They’re now looking forward to next year.

Catholic churches in the valley will also be live-streaming Easter Sunday service, according to Bishop Gerald Barnes from the Diocese of San Bernardino.

A video statement from Bishop Barnes can be viewed here:

The annual sunrise service at the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is cancelled.

No online alternative service is scheduled according to a Tramway representative. 

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Tom Tucker


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