AUBURN — As the lights on a single Christmas tree cut through the rain and darkness at Hoopes Park in Auburn, Norma Olcott thought of the people she has helped during her time with Hospice of the Finger Lakes.
Olcott said there isn't always time to mourn the people she assists in their final moments, as she must go on to the next person. The 30th annual Light Up a Life Tree Lighting Ceremony, held Thursday night, gives her a moment to think about those whose lives she tried to make easier.
"Every light on the tree is like an angel," Olcott said.
Some people treated by hospice still go out to events and don't stay at home constantly, she said. Olcott has found her 10 years with hospice to be tremendously rewarding.
The ceremony, hosted by hospice, features a tree placed in the park's gazebo. Before the event began, people walked to the gazebo guided by the lights hanging from the structure.
Terry Kline, hospice's executive director, was among those who spoke at the event. She thanked the crowd for attending. Doug Parker, the secretary for hospice's board of directors, also spoke to the crowd.
"Hospice holds a big place in my heart. As I look out at you, I know you feel the same," Parker said.
After the tree was lit, children from the group Perform 4 Purpose sang "We Wish You a Merry Christmas."
Speaking after the event, board president Tim Callahan said he never forgot how the staff with a different hospice treated his mother, who decided she wanted to die at home.
"They told us what to expect, they helped us with everything," Callahan said. "It just made the situation so much easier."
Meredith O'Hora and her niece, Amelia Duhamel, 3, with O'Hora's dog Benny in tow, also attended the event. O'Hora said they live near the park, so they decided to come by. O'Hora said the event brought up memories of her aunt, Mary O'Hora, even though she was never with hospice.
Kline said she appreciated how many people came out to the tree-lighting.
"Many of the people that came today have had loved ones that have been cared for by hospice and I think that coming together at this time of year with others that have experienced loss just feel comforted being with other people," Kline said.