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Easter Sunrise Service at the Hollywood Bowl canceled this year; recession and lack of donors cited

April 1, 2010 |  1:40 pm

Hollywood BowlThe recession and lack of adequate donor support have led to the cancellation this year of the popular Hollywood Bowl Easter Sunrise Service, organizers said Thursday.

“It’s terribly heartbreaking,” said Trina Herrmann-Boychenko, president of the group that organizes the annual service. “It’s the economy, and our donors are unable to support [the event] as much as they would like to."

The nonprofit group Hollywood Bowl Easter Sunrise Service relies on financial assistance from corporations and the general public to present the nondenominational Easter celebration.

The cost of putting on the event is “substantial ... similar to putting on a rock concert or lease event,” said Herrmann-Boychenko. She would not specify a dollar amount.

Admission and parking are typically free of charge to the event that in past years organizers said had attracted between 12,000 and 17,000 worshipers. Attendance dropped to around 8,000 in the last two years, Herrmann-Boychenko said.

It is not the first time the service has been canceled. It failed to go forward in 2004 and 2005 due to a $25-million renovation to replace the stage shell with a larger structure. It also was canceled for five years in the mid-1990s because of other renovation work at the amphitheater.

The service was held in other locations, including at nearby Forest Lawn Memorial-Park in Hollywood Hills.

The event also suffered an emotional blow last year when longtime volunteer and producer Norma Foster suffered a massive stroke, Herrmann Boychenko said.

The sunrise services began in 1919 as a gathering for silent film stars near the site of the Hollywood Bowl, and moved to its current site in 1921. Back then, the bowl was basically a hillside blanketed with rocks and weeds, but the area had good natural acoustics.

--Ann Simmons

Photo: Easter services at the Hollywood Bowl in 1947. UCLA collection.