WHITTIER – On a chilly Sunday morning at Rose Hills Memorial Park, about 1,200 people gathered atop a grassy hill to celebrate Easter. At the crack of dawn, a choir sang songs such as “On the Third Day” and “Hallelujah” to an audience that had come from as far away as Anaheim. “It was a beautiful atmosphere with the grassy landscaping and view,” said landscape architect Ron Lee, 31, of Rosemead. “You kind of forget you’re in a cemetery. I felt like I was here for God.” Pastors presiding over the service recited scripture readings and led prayers amid the dim glow of candle lights nearby. “Easter is the most important day on the Christian calendar.” said the Rev. Thomas Boles. “Easter is about change … about life and death.” “Jesus Christ has risen,” said retired police officer Duane Benell, 67, of Whittier. “He is our lord and savior. Through him we have internal life and will also rise.” The celebrants drove home the point that Easter isn’t just about rabbits and candy. “Some think Easter is about bunnies, eggs and baskets,” said the Rev. Ed Besserra. “\[But\] Christ has risen today.” The Easter sunrise service has been a tradition at Rose Hills Memorial Park since 1941, when much of the verdant landscape was just dirt. The service, which has always been free to the public, attracts hundreds of the faithful every year. “Families like to come here because their loved ones are buried here,” said Natalie Neufeld, community affairs manager for the park. “That way, they feel like they’re celebrating Easter with their loved ones.” For many, Easter means a renewed life and starting fresh. “Easter is about people having their lives change,” Boles said. “Christ has made it possible for us to have a new life.” AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREOregon Ducks football players get stuck on Disney ride during Rose Bowl event160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!