UNION COUNTY, IL (KFVS) - As a heavy fog swirled around the base of the Bald Knob Cross the faithful began to gather for a decades old tradition.
For the past 77 years Easter Sunday has been observed at the Bald Knob Cross.
And this year's celebration also marked another milestone in the history of the cross, it's been standing now for 50 years.
"Bald Knob Cross has been a place that has really united people," said D. W. Presley Chairman, Bald Knob Cross of Peace. "That's the history behind it's 77 years since the first annual Easter Sunday Sunrise Service, people coming together in a united worship."
As the skies begin to brighten the bell tolled as it has for the past 30 years, and the service began.
Hundreds bowed their heads for the opening prayer. And then they all began to sing, The Old Rugged Cross.
"I just couldn't miss it, I didn't realize how much the Lord meant to me,"said Sheryl Atkins of Du Quoin. "And I just knew that I had to be here this year, regardless. I didn't care if it was raining, snowing or sleeting I was coming here."
The faithful came for the worship, to enjoy some fellowship and share in the faith they all respectfully believe in.
The scripture and sermon delivered by Pastor Steve McKeown of the Christian Life Center in Herrin.
"I just think it's important that we all get together like the pastor said as a group in unity," said Steve Garden of Sartell, MN. "And for us all to celebrate the rising of the Lord, that Jesus is king and he's alive."
"It meant quite a bit actually to me to be able to have the sunrise service, and that moment of worshipping," said Frank Caruso of Christopher. "And to rejoice in Jesus being risen, because he's alive."
For some this is the first sunrise service they've ever attended. For others the cross holds a special place in their hearts.
"This place was always very special to my grandmother. And she passed away three years ago yesterday," said Gina Simpkins of Herrin. "So we came up here to the cross to celebrate her, and to celebrate Christ with anyone and everyone in Southern Illinois."
The restoration of the Bald Knob Cross has taken more then five years, hundreds of thousands of dollars and countless hours from volunteers.
The next phase of the restoration will be the installment of the "Paver Garden" around the base of the cross. And security cameras to help protect the cross from vandals.