A six-decade-long tradition that has served the communities of Folsom and Granite Bay is set to continue as the sun rises over the waters of Folsom Lake on Easter Sunday. It’s the annual Sunrise Service that takes place at Beals Point, drawing several hundred residents to celebrate the holiday in the form of a non-denominational worship surrounded by nature’s beauty.


As it enters its 63rd year, the annual Beals Point Sunrise Service continues to be organized by Folsom’s Williams family along with a handful of volunteers who wake up in the early morning hours on Easter Sunday to set up for the service, from erecting the large cross that stands against the backdrop of Folsom Lake to arranging sound for live music, a temporary pulpit, and more.

Most who have attended the service in the past know the story of its early beginnings very well, but for those who haven’t, it’s worth sharing. It all started in the early 1960s when Jim “Digger” Williams and his wife Sharon relocated from the Midwest to the city of Folsom. For many, the name “Digger Williams” is familiar in this town, as he was known through the decades for his love and commitment to the community, especially the Folsom Pro Rodeo, which he was instrumental in during its humble beginnings.


As they celebrated their first Easter in Folsom, the Williams learned about a lakeside service on the shores of Folsom Lake. From the first time they attended, it became a family tradition, and then one year, it was suddenly gone.

“We went there that year not knowing that it wasn’t happening anymore; it was just dark and empty,” Williams recalled. “So, we just stayed there, and we had our own service. We took our time and we celebrated in our own special way.”


Holding their own personal Easter service that year was all it took for the special celebration to then be resurrected as the Williams family decided to bring it back themselves for the community the following year and share what they experienced with the entire community, and the rest is history.

Even after Digger’s passing in 2014, the Williams family remains committed to providing the Easter Service to the community. Today, Sharon remains involved with its planning and is always in attendance, while the younger generations of her family have taken on the heavy lifting and planning of the event, doing so with great pride to carry on a great community tradition.

Sharon’s grandson Anthony Williams and his wife Gaw Vang Williams have become the leading force among the many family members when it comes to planning and presenting the Beals Point event.


“We really appreciate everyone’s continued participation in this event through the years; it’s something we love to do and are very passionate about,” said Anthony. “This has always been a very special and safe place for people to come celebrate Easter, and we are so happy that we have been able to preserve that all these years.”

Anthony participates in the event annually, performing music along with Gaw, and the two of them take great pride in planning the program. When it comes to music, Gaw is no stranger to it, as she has a long history of performing and teaching music and is now Folsom High School’s band director.


“I love being part of this family and this community,” said Gaw. “I feel so blessed that grandma (Sharon) has let us take the lead in planning the music for the event and continuing it. It takes some work, but it’s very different from what I do every day in my job. It’s so great to be a part of it.”

Sunday’s service is scheduled to begin at 6:30 a.m. sharp, just as the sun begins to rise over the lake. The Williams family suggests arriving at Beals Point early, around 6 a.m., and bring your own lawn chairs for the service. California State Parks does require the standard fee of $12 per car to enter the park, however, those with a state library card will be allowed to enter and park for free, according to the Williams family. Those that don’t have a card can learn more at https://www.library.ca.gov/apply/.

The program will begin at 6:30 a.m. and will include songs, welcoming messages, scripture, and prayer being shared by members of the Williams family prior to Pastor Brad Franklin delivering the Easter message. Many in the community know Franklin well; he recently retired after decades of leading Lakeside Church in Folsom. Franklin’s message will be followed by a handful of songs to conclude the ceremony.

Each year, the Beals Point Easter Service continues to grow in attendance. There have only been two years that the event did not take place. One of those was during a severe storm many years ago, and the second was during the pandemic when the family still managed to pull off a small celebration using Zoom online.

“Some have told me it is the only service they attend all year,” Sharon Williams says. “I like the fact that people want to come because it is a great way of celebrating outside in the open. It’s beautiful every year.”

For more information, a “63rd Annual Beals Point Easter Service” event page has been created on Facebook and can be found by clicking here, where you can confirm location, times, and even let them know you plan to attend with a simple click upon visiting THAT ONLINE EVENT CAN BE FOUND BY CLICKING HERE

Those wishing to view the event program can also visit it online by clicking HERE.  The family will have QR codes at the event as week so guests can follow along during the program.  

The event takes place rain or shine, so it’s suggested to bring umbrellas along with the lawn chairs as needed. The entrance to Beals Point recreation sits at the border of Folsom and Granite Bay. It is accessible to vehicles at 7806 Auburn Folsom Road, Folsom. Those living in the southeast area of Granite Bay near the lake also have the ability to enjoy a morning walk or bike ride along the many trails that lead to the location.

Imagery and Content © Folsom Times, All Town Media LLC 2024

Bill Sullivan
Author: Bill Sullivan