Locals gather for Christmas box vigil in Idaho Falls tonight

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Courtesy Terry Hale

IDAHO FALLS – Locals who have lost loved ones will gather at the Fielding Memorial Cemetery in Idaho Falls on Wednesday night to celebrate, remember and comfort each other. Those in attendance will place a flower at the base of a Christmas Box angel statue as they say the name of the person they are remembering.

That is the purpose behind the 10th annual Christmas box vigil.

Terry Hale and his wife Linda, have been the co-chairpersons of the event in Idaho Falls for the last 10 years. Terry Hale says this tradition has personal meaning for him.

“My wife and I lost a grandchild about twenty years ago. We took it pretty hard. My wife sat up in bed one night and said ‘We’ve got to build a statue,'” Hale tells EastIdahoNews.com.

Hale says his wife, at that time, had recently read “The Christmas Box,” a book that spawned annual vigils in cemeteries all over the globe.

In the book, a woman mourns the loss of her child at the base of an angel monument.

“The book is really about the loss of a child, especially my little sister Sue, and the pain my mother felt over losing her, “Christmas Box” author Richard Paul Evans tells us. “My mother wasn’t allowed to grieve. Until this book came along, she held it inside for decades.”

The angel monument, according to Evans, existed prior to the book. After reading “The Christmas Box,” people with similar experiences started coming from all over the country to see it in Salt Lake City. Evans got permission to rebuild it after learning it had been destroyed. Similar statues started popping up in other communities. Today, there are more than 140 of them around the world.

Tonight’s Christmas Box Angel vigil in Idaho Falls marks the 10th anniversary of the dedication of the angel. Hale says he has fond memories of when Evans came to dedicate the monument a decade ago.

After Hale and his wife lost their grandchild, they began working with the Idaho Falls city council to get one built.

“At the time we went to the city, Jared Fuhriman was the mayor. (We learned) he had lost a baby. (Fuhriman) said, ‘let’s do it,'” Hale says.

Hale and his wife raised $26,000 to build the statue. The Angel monument in Idaho Falls became the 84th angel statue built. It sits on a 3-road intersection inside the cemetery.

“Since we built it, we inherited the job of making sure the vigil happens every year,” Hale tells us. “It is one of the most touching things you can experience.”

Fielding Memorial Cemetery is located on South Yellowstone Boulevard in Idaho Falls. The candlelight vigil begins at 6 p.m. tonight for anyone who would like to attend.

Participants are encouraged to bring a flower to place at the base of the statue, along with a candle. There will also be a speaker and music provided by the Idaho Falls Sounds Choir.