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Photos: Where To Attend Easter Sunrise Services In Los Angeles

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Los Angeles, according to historian Glen Creason, "has always been a town for Christian extravaganzas," so it should come as no surprise that we have a long tradition of dramatic Easter sunrise services. The Hollywood Bowl Easter sunrise service, which was perhaps L.A.'s most famous (and will unfortunately not be offered this year), began in 1921 with over 2,000 faithful gathered in what was then known as old Daisy Dell, before the Hollywood Bowl was even the Hollywood Bowl. According to Creason, the service is actually the reason for the legendary venue's existence:

The “Hollywood Bowl Easter Sunrise Service Committee” bought the land in 1921 and passed it on to the county in 1924 for the continuation of the tradition. The Bowl’s famed shell along with a platform for musicians was added in 1926. An actual stage was erected in 1927. Over the years, the Sunrise Service grew larger and more popular, punctuated by the Children’s Living Cross Chorus, which features 150-plus children in black robes placed in a cross formation on stage

Pre-1921, large-scale outdoor sunrise services were held in a number of Hollywood locations, including Whitley Heights and what is now Barnsdall Park, but the sites were "too small and the acoustics unworthy of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra that debuted at the 1921 opening event," according to the Daily News.

The Daily News reports that while "scouring Southern California for a site well-suited for an annual Easter service," a group of Hollywood elite standing in the Mulholland Hills "looked down and said, `That looks good. Maybe the sound will be good because it looks like a bowl,"' according to Norma Foster, the longtime president of the Hollywood Bowl Easter Sunrise Service.

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The Easter sunrise service is actually a relatively new tradition, as far as religion goes. The very first one was reportedly initiated in 1732 by a single group of German brothers who gathered in a cemetery on a hill to celebrate the resurrection of Christ.

“We agreed among our [group] of young men that this Easter morning we were to go up the Hutberg early before the rise of the sun. This happened," one of them wrote in a diary, according to the Moravian Archives. “This morning we had the nicest celebration among our graves,” another wrote in a letter to a cousin that same day. The next year, the brothers were joined by their entire congregation.

In preparation for the upcoming Easter, we've listed some places where you could be spending your Sunday morning.

Easter Sunrise Service at the Cross on McGroarty Peak

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(Photo courtesy of New Hope Community Church via Facebook)
A Sunland-Tujunga Easter tradition since the 1920s, this service offers a dramatic view of the cross on McGroarty Peak. The service begins at 6:00 a.m., but shuttle buses will begin departing from 5:00 a.m. to 5:45 a,m. from the corner of Foothill and Hillhaven (Travel Inn). Organizers emphasize that there is NO PARKING on the mountain.

The service is located at 9963 Hillhaven Avenue in Tujunga.

Easter Sunrise Service at First AME Church

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First AME Church. (Photo courtesy of FAME Church via Facebook)
This one is inside, but First AME's iconic gospel choir is easily as awe-inspiring as any natural vista. Services begin at the historic church at 6 a.m. A fashion show and short production with breakfast will take place after the service (suggested donation $12). Founded in 1872, the First African Methodist Episcopal Church is the oldest African American church in Los Angeles, and has long served as a cultural center.

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First AME is located at 2270 S Harvard Boulevard in South Los Angeles. Parking information here.

Easter Sunrise Service at the Battleship USS Iowa

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(Photo courtesy of Pacific Battleship Center via Facebook)
This non-denominational service will be held on the fantail of the historic Battleship, overlooking the L.A. Waterfront. The service begins at 6 a.m. and guests will be invited to board the ship beginning at 5:30 a.m. Remember to dress warm and wear appropriate footwear for the Battleship.

The Pacific Battleship Center/Battleship USS Iowa is located at 250 S Harbor Boulevard, Berth 87, in San Pedro.

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Sunrise Service at Palisades Park

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Palisades Park (Photo by Marie via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
The First United Methodist Church of Santa Monica will be hosting a public service at Palisades Park overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. According to organizers, there will be beautiful scenery, Holy Communion, hot coffee and fellowship. Attendees are urged to bring blankets, chairs, and fresh flowers for the cross.

Palisades Park is located at Ocean Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard in Santa Monica.

Easter Sunrise Service in the Carlsbad Flower Fields

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Carlsbad Flower Fields. (Photo courtesy of the Flower Fields via Facebook)
This one is a bit of a trek, but the setting is sure to be especially lovely, especially smack in the middle of Super Bloom season. The Fields Church in Carlsbad will be hosting a sunrise service in the Carlsbad Flower Fields from 6:30 a.m. to 8 a.m. on Sunday. Breakfast will be served, and attendees are urged to dress warmly.

The Flower Fields are located at 5704 Paseo del Norte in Carlsbad.

Easter Sunrise Service at Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

This service is also a little further afield, but the view of the sunrise from the Aerial Tramway's Mountain Station (elevation 8,516 feet) should be breathtaking. The annual service above Mt. San Jacinto starts at 5:30 a.m with songs by the Abie & Bert Duo. The first tram car up that morning is 5:00 a.m. Reduced Tram fares will be in effect until 7:30 a.m. with round-trip costing $15.50 for adults and seniors, and $12.25 for children ages 3 to 12. Immediately following the program, breakfast will be served in Pines Café until 10:00 a.m. If purchased by 7:30 a.m., the cost for the Ride ‘N’ Breakfast combination, which includes round-trip tram fare, is $25.95 for adults and seniors, and $16.95 for children ages 3 to 12. The breakfast menu is also available separately until 10:00 a.m. for $12.95 plus tax.

The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is located at One Tramway Drive in Palm Springs.

Easter Sunrise Service at Manhattan Beach Pier

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(Photo courtesy of Manhattan Beach Community Church via Facebook)
Manhattan Beach Community Church will hold a sunrise service just north of the pier on the beach at 6:30 a.m. By the looks of the picture, you should bring your own beach towels or chair. There will be an Easter Festival back at the church starting at 9 a.m. with an Easter Egg hunt, crafts and other activities.

The pier is located at 2 Manhattan Beach Boulevard in Manhattan Beach.