KENNEBUNK – People living near First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church and Kennebunk Town Hall are invited to open their window or step out on their porch at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 19, to look and listen as the two entities mark the National Memorial to those who have died of COVID-19.

The First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church bell will toll one time for every 10,000 U.S. COVID-19  deaths, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 19. Dan King photo

According to records kept by Johns Hopkins University of Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center, there have been 397,699 deaths nationwide attributed to COVID-19 as of Jan, 18. In Maine, there have been 511 deaths in the same time period.

At Kennebunk Unitarian Universalist Church, the Rev. Lara K-J Campbell said the Paul Revere bell will be tolled one time for every 10,000 U.S. COVID-19  deaths, beginning at 5:30 p.m.

“Tolling the bell is a tradition that goes back hundreds of years to honor the lives of those who have died,” she said.

The Kennebunk Select Board last week agreed to light town hall that evening at 5:30 p.m., as part of the memorial.

Resident Dan Sayre approached the board to ask that the town participate by lighting town hall. He noted folks were inviting other churches to ring the bells at the same time.

A ceremony has been scheduled in Washington, D. C., at the same time, and is to feature a lighting around the Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool.

The event is to mark a national moment of unity and remembrance, said Sayre.

As well as remembering lives lost, Sayre noted that most town of Kennebunk employees – police officers, firefighters, EMS, teachers, town hall staff, and many others – have been serving for nearly a year in front-line or at-risk roles and that the observance will recognize their service.

The memorial event in Washington, D.C. is hosted by the Presidential Inauguration Committee, which has asked towns and cities to join them.

Campbell said the church bell-tolling is not anticipated to be an in-person event, but said if folks do want to attend, they are asked to wear masks and observe social distance protocols.

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