Year after year, the annual Easter Sunrise Service on the shores of Folsom Lake seems to have even more attendees than the year before. Such was the case again this Sunday as several hundred braved the chilly weather and threat of showers to pack the lawn in the picnic area of Beals Point recreation park for this local tradition. 

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Celebrating its 63rd year, this annual non-denominational service is organized by multiple generations of the Williams Family, who are known for their love of community in Folsom, a city they have called home since the 1960s.


When Sharon Williams and her late husband “Digger,” first moved to the area, they began attending the service that was organized by an area church. When the church stopped doing the lakeside service one year, the family felt it was important for the community, so they took it upon themselves to continue it. Today, it’s multiple generations of the Williams family that carry on the event, all in the spirit of community. 

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As they arrived, attendees of all ages assembled on the lawn area, surrounding the illuminated cross that stood before a background of the horizon and the waters of Folsom Lake, producing a beautiful scene that always has attendees capturing photos as the service begins, just as the sun creeps up over the horizon, bringing a glimmer to the water. 

On this particular day, the sunrise was a bit sparse as it was hidden by the clouds, and the wet weather carried into the morning hours, but that didn’t dampen the spirit of those who attended from Folsom, Granite Bay, and El Dorado Hills. 

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This annual event takes place with very few changes from year to year as the Williams family strives to keep it simple. For its first 62 years, the family was even able to work with California State Parks, convincing them to waive the park entry fee for those attending the Easter Service. This year, however, there was one change as State Park officials charged admission to the park for the first time, but the $12 fee didn’t affect attendance as cars were lined up from the toll booth to Folsom-Auburn Road around the 6 a.m. hour to gain entry. 

Another change this year was on that drew much applause from the crowd when longtime Folsom Pastor Brad Franklin took the pulpit to deliver the Easter message. Franklin recently retired after leading Folsom’s Lakeside Church for three decades, after opening its doors more than three decades ago. “One thing I have gotten used to in retirement is a no-alarm-clock lifestyle,” said Franklin. “This was probably only the fourth time I have set my alarm since I retired. When it went off, I thought to myself who is going to be out there at Beals Point at this hour, and look at all of you here today.” 

Prior to Franklin’s message and thereafter, members of the different generations of the Williams family led the service, either in song, speech, or prayer. 

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As the service concluded, many stuck around to visit with members of the community while Mother Nature provided a break from the showers long enough for everyone to enjoy another year at Beals Point. 

It was estimated some 350 individuals were in attendance for the event; thereafter, many headed home to their planned family events or additional Easter service events and festivities across the city.

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Bill Sullivan
Author: Bill Sullivan