The holidays are a time when many people think about loved ones who have died. In light of that, Hoffmann Hospice gave people a chance to honor their loved ones in a way that befits the holidays.

The nonprofit organization held its Light Up a Life event at the Marketplace on Tuesday night. People recognized their loved ones by purchasing lights in their memory, and the lights were affixed to a Christmas tree that was lit up during the event.

Hundreds of people packed the center for the ceremony, which included a reading of all of the names for whom the lights were added to the tree. The event also included music provided by Bakersfield Christian High School as well as hot chocolate and cookies for attendees.

"It's a cherished and time-honored tradition for our community and we hope it becomes one for everyone present here tonight," Miles Muzio, Master of Ceremonies, said of the event. "We hope that as we reflect on cherished moments and pay tribute to our loved ones who have passed away, you...will find the light in your own life and share it with your neighbors." 

Amy Padilla participated in Light Up for Life for the first time to honor her 16-month-old daughter Alayah, who died two years ago after falling into a pool. Padilla also purchased a light in the memory of her 79-year-old grandmother, Dorothy Kightlinger, who died around 40 days after the death of her great-grandchild of natural causes.  

"I was kind of down for the holidays, so I'd heard about this and I thought that it was where I needed to be," Padilla said. "This is so amazing and beautiful. It makes me feel closer to them."

Padilla said she would like to participate in the event again in the future. 

"Doing stuff like this helps my heart feel better," she said.

Gabby Cendejas came out for the second time to honor her sister Perla Munoz, who died nearly two years ago from liver cancer. Cendejas also came to honor her mother-in-law Consuelo Cendejas, who had died from breast cancer. 

"It's a little bit bittersweet because you're remembering someone who had passed, but it's nice to gather around with other people and share that same feeling with them," she said. 

Joseph Luiz can be reached at 395-7368 or by email at jluiz@bakersfield.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @JLuiz_TBC. 

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