ALTO PASS, IL (KFVS) - This Easter marks the 76th consecutive year that people joined together for a sunrise service on Bald Knob Mountain in Alto Pass, Illinois.
The service began at sunrise, just after 6 a.m.
People there Sunday morning were taking extra time to look at it, because the Cross is in a state that hasn't been seen in years.
Thanks to repairs, the Cross looks much like it used to in its original glory. It was something that took a lot of time and determination to pull off.
Not long ago the Cross had fallen into disrepair due to Mother Nature and legal disputes.
The property was actually locked down in 2006, ordered by courts stemming from fights among board members.
But those who love the Cross never lost hope.
Eventually differences were settled, and a new board of leaders finally emerged to take the cross into the final phases of restoration.
More than $550,000 was raised to restore it. A lot of that work involved cleaning up rust and replacing the porcelain panels.
The friends of the Cross raised a lot of money to revamp the Cross itself, and many say it looks beautiful but when night falls you can't see their work.
That's because a few years back, vandals broke out and completely destroyed the Cross' lighting system. So, while the Cross has been completely refurbished, it's still not the shining beacon organizers know it can be and hope it can soon be once again.
Temporary lighting is set up right now to illuminate the cross this Easter morning. The next goal of the Friends of the Cross group is to raise the funds for the purchase and installation of new lighting so that the Bald Knob Cross can once again be illuminated each night.
Ultimately they also want to create a garden area around the Cross, and incorporate a paver program. That means for a donation you could get a brick with a message engraved that would become a part of the cross grounds.
Speakers for the event included: Dr. Mark Roath, Pastor of the Anna Heights Baptist Church in Anna, Illinois; Darren Casper, Director of plantMIDWEST and Lead Pastor of The Church at Bevo, St. Louis, Missouri; and Carol Nebughr, Vice President of the Bald Knob Cross of Peace.
Music was provided by the Shabach Choir of the Bethel AME Church of Carbondale and the congregational singing will be led by Tammy Washer and Brian Prior, both from southern Illinois.
The visitor's center was open beginning around 5 a.m. before and the service for coffee, donuts and fellowship. It was open again after the service.
According to Bald Knob Cross of Peace President D. W. Presley, temporary lighting was set up to illuminate the Bald Knob Cross on Easter morning.
The next goal of the organization is to raise the funds for the purchase and installation of new lighting so that the Bald Knob Cross can once again be illuminated each night.
More information can be found online at baldknobcross.com.