Washington County VA

Trail Days hikers hold candlelight service

DAMASCUS, Va. - Despite Saturday's accident in Damascus, the Trail Days festival continued Sunday. The hikers held a candlelight service Saturday night to remember those who were injured.

The organizer of the service tells News 5 it was important to bring all the hikers together and to lift each other up.

The campfire at Tent City, the center of the festival, is out now, but Saturday night it was filled with hikers and candlelight. "None of us knew if people were alive or dead. Nobody knew how many people had been affected, or if we knew of anybody affected," said Noble Jennette, organizer of the candlelight service.

Jennette organized the candlelight service to remember the dozens of hikers hit by a car Saturday afternoon. "It could have been any of us," he said.

He says as soon as they realized what happened and got back from the parade, they wanted to do something to honor the hikers that were injured. "It was beautiful, you're talking about two or three hundred people all silent and quiet, thinking the same somber thoughts," said Jennette.

Hiker Gray Myers described to us how Tent City lit up Saturday night. "People were just getting handed candles and lighting them. They were little white candles. Everyone was just placing them all around the campfire. There were tons of them," said Myers.

After placing the candles the hikers stood together and sang Amazing Grace. "[There were] fully-grown men bawling their eyes out because they have no idea what's going on. The confusion I think was really the biggest thing we were all feeling," said Jennette.

Myers says being together helped everyone feel at little better. "It made everyone feel more at ease because everyone came together and talked about it," he said.

Now the hikers are packing their gear and moving on to continue their journey along the Appalachian Trail, not letting what happened stop them but not forgetting those who were injured. "Hikers are some of the most resilient people I've ever met in my life," said Jennette.

Jennette also told us hikers are used to weathering the storm together when they are on the trails and that's how they will get through this accident -- together.

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