SPIRIT OF THE SEASON

In Chapin, angels are still among us

Special to The StateDecember 23, 2012 

  • About this series Through the holidays, we will run stories and photographs — some reader-submitted, like this one — to celebrate some of the simple moments and traditions of the season.

Angels have come to Chapin this year.

They vary in size, shape and color but have a common purpose. Each of the celestial beings, described in the Old Testament as messengers from God, represents a loved one lost by someone in the community.

The angel ornaments are hanging from branches of the town’s live Christmas tree, along Columbia Avenue, in front of the Community Theatre.

Local artist Val Zaba suggested covering the tree in angels in honor of her friend, Vicki Shealy, who died in November after a long illness.

Shealy collected angels.

Her husband, Stan Shealy, the longtime mayor of Chapin, became the first to donate an angel — the one hung on top of the 20-foot town tree, with the help of the fire department.

The mayor said he hopes the angel-covered tree will become an annual tradition.

“I have to say, it is a nice way to remember. This can be a rough time of year,” he said.

There’s a handmade angel donated by the mother of a soldier who made it as a third-grader and who died this year in service.

There’s an angel for a young mother killed in a motorcycle accident. It was made by her 4-year-old son.

Another angel was donated by a woman whose mother was lost during Hurricane Sandy.

Angels for the 20 children lost in the Newtown, Conn., tragedy were handcrafted and donated by the kindergarten- and elementary school-age members of the Crooked Creek Afternoon Safari Program.

Kimi Barwick Daly said selecting the right angel was a way to pay tribute to her father, Jackson LaVelle Barwick, 87, who drowned near his Lake Murray home in June. The angel was strong enough to stay on the branch, she said, but light enough to float in the wind.

“This was a way to celebrate the lives of the people we lost,” Daly said.

Some of the angels were donated anonymously.

More arrive all the time.

Gold bulbs and fairy lights illuminate the precious angels, messengers of the loved ones trusted to their care.

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