The Rev. Erik Rasmussen leads an Easter Sunrise Service on Jones Beach...

The Rev. Erik Rasmussen leads an Easter Sunrise Service on Jones Beach on Sunday.  Credit: Daniel Goodrich

This story was reported by Matthew Chayes, Tiffany Cusaac-Smith, Brianne Ledda and Tracy Tullis. It was written by Chayes.

As a faint wash of pink appeared on the horizon, the faithful gathered in the dark on Jones Beach for a sunrise Easter service celebrating what Christians believe marks the sacred day Jesus rose from the dead.

Some worshippers stood in the sand. Others sat on beach chairs.

The gathering is a tradition within a tradition for the Long Island Council of Churches, a coalition of Protestant denominations, which has been celebrating Easter at dawn by the shore for about 60 years. 

“When the sun comes up, we know the darkness is dispelled by the light,” said the Rev. Erik Rasmussen, a retired minister for the Methodist Church of Woodbury who led the service.

Easter sunrise service at Jones Beach on Sunday.

Easter sunrise service at Jones Beach on Sunday. Credit: Daniel Goodrich

Long Island has about 1.75 million Christians, of whom the Island’s about 1.47 million Catholics make up the largest denomination, according to the most recent tabulation by Association of Religion Data Archives.

Laura Mauer, 57, said she has been attending this Easter service for years.

“I see the dawn quite often,” she said, so getting up for the 6 a.m. service was not a hardship. But “to be here on Easter morning with everyone else — it’s very special.”

The Rev. Ron Garner, 71, the pastor at the Wantagh Memorial Congregational Church, said he appreciates “the beauty of the sunrise” and the opportunity for “churches of many denominations to get together. It’s a good ecumenical gathering.”

Catherine Barry, 4, with her mom Ann, of Rockville Centre,...

Catherine Barry, 4, with her mom Ann, of Rockville Centre, jumps up and down in excitement after Easter Sunday Mass at the Cathedral of St. Agnes in Rockville Centre. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

As the sun rose, the crowd of about 60 sang the traditional Easter hymn “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” and others, and there was a reading from the Gospel of Luke that tells the story of the discovery of an empty tomb and the announcement of the resurrection.

The Easter message of hope and rebirth had a personal meaning for Karimah Tarazi, 62, a Palestinian from Jerusalem, who is staying on Long Island temporarily.

She wishes she could be home in Jerusalem, but she has been in the United States since the Israel-Hamas war began. She said many members of her family in Gaza have been killed in Israeli bombings.

“Thank goodness there are good church people that believe in justice and have been very supportive,” she said. “Let’s hope the spirit of the day permeates.”

Easter services at Union Baptist Church in Hempstead on Sunday.

Easter services at Union Baptist Church in Hempstead on Sunday. Credit: James Carbone

Union Baptist Church in Hempstead raised a joyful noise on Resurrection Sunday.

The choir’s singing brought churchgoers to their feet. Some in the crowd lifted their hands in praise or clapped, while some danced up and down the church’s aisles.

“Resurrection reminds us that, no matter how bad the situation has been, that we can always rise above,” the Rev. Sedgwick Easley, the pastor, told Newsday.

He said the resurrection message carries a particular resonance with Black churchgoers.

“Resurrection Sunday gives us an opportunity to look ahead in spite of all the obstacles that’s in our way,” he said. “Particularly as an African American congregation, it reminds us that there is freedom after oppression.”

The service included prayers for Baltimore after a deadly bridge collapse there, and Haiti, a Caribbean nation dealing with unrest.

“We’re praying for the spirit of liberation, amen,” he told worshippers. “We’re praying for the spirit of freedom this morning.”

After the service, Frank Drayton, 74, said he felt “fantastic.”

“Resurrection Day is a day of renewal,” the Uniondale resident said, adding: “It’s a new start.”

Long Islanders celebrated the holiday beyond religious services, too. 

Hundreds attended a parade and egg hunt hosted by the Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce.

The Rev. Sedgwick V. Easley conducts Easter services at Union...

The Rev. Sedgwick V. Easley conducts Easter services at Union Baptist Church in Hempstead. Credit: James Carbone

It was the first year the chamber offered gifts for participants to “recycle” their eggs, said Mary Joy Pipe, a past chamber president and current board member.

Organizers distributed bracelets, stickers and bubbles in exchange for the plastic eggs used in the hunt, for which the chamber buys thousands every year.

Pipe said the chamber plans to reuse the returned eggs at future egg hunts.

Children wore homemade Easter-themed hats, bunny ears and their Sunday best as they raced for eggs scattered on the grass of Harborfront Park, near the Port Jefferson Village Center.

Madison Russel, 5, left, and Brendan Callender, 14, from Port...

Madison Russel, 5, left, and Brendan Callender, 14, from Port Jefferson at the Easter parade and egg hunt at the village center. Credit: Morgan Campbell

Camelia Laroche, 4, swished a floral tulle skirt on the green at Harborfront Park, showing off her outfit to friends at the egg hunt. Her parents, from Lake Grove, said this is their first year at the event.

“It’s fun. It gives the kids something to do,” her father, Claude Laroche, 35, said.

Sabine Giunta, 8, comes to the egg hunt with her family every Easter while visiting grandparents in Selden.

Her mother, Desiree, 51, held a decked-out homemade Easter bonnet while Sabine searched for eggs.

“We made these years ago, we keep updating them,” she said.

Sabine said she felt “amazing” about Easter. But, she added, “If you ever talk to the person who hides the eggs, I suggest you tell them to actually hide them.”

Get the latest news and more great videos at NewsdayTV Credit: Newsday

Summer tourism ... Shark sightings on LI . . . Dino-Mite Vintage . . . What's Up on Long Island . . . Get the latest news and more great videos at NewsdayTV

Get the latest news and more great videos at NewsdayTV Credit: Newsday

Summer tourism ... Shark sightings on LI . . . Dino-Mite Vintage . . . What's Up on Long Island . . . Get the latest news and more great videos at NewsdayTV

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