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Stations of the Cross Walk returns in downtown Sarasota

The Sarasota Ministerial Association and Church of the Redeemer put on the 21st annual Good Friday procession April 15.

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Chaplain Tom Pfaff keeps busy leading up to the annual Stations of the Cross walk through downtown Sarasota on Good Friday.

The president of the Sarasota Ministerial Association works closely with the Church of the Redeemer Episcopal Church each year to put on the event, which marks Jesus’ journey carrying the cross to the hill where he was crucified. 

Putting on the ceremony requires coordinating and collaborating with a number of different congregations representing various denominations and picking a series of speakers along the way.

He jokes that his friends and family sometimes call him an event planner.

“People call me the Mother Hen. I’m getting people to do what they don’t have time to,” Pfaff said. “Any time I see a church putting on a festival, I know someone didn’t sleep that week.”

But as with every year, seeing the many groups and people walking together is what makes it all worth it. 

Such will be the case early in the morning on April 15, where around 1,000 people are expected to join more than a dozen pastors, preachers and priests in the annual walk. 

The crowd will meet at 7:25 a.m. outside the Hollywood 11 Theater on Main Street and walk through 14 stations before ending at the Church of the Redeemer. Sarasota trolleys will be driving people who park at the Church of the Redeemer to the beginning location starting at 6:15 a.m.

Work on the walk starts in January where Pfaff and staff have permits approved and get everything ready to go. They also take each walk as a time to reflect on how last year’s event went and see what they can do better.

For this year, there’s a new wireless sound system for better audio clarity with the speakers. The stations have been placed at different areas along Main Street this year to adapt to the area’s changing construction.

Spiritually speaking, it heartens Pfaff to see so many groups come together on Good Friday. 

“There’s a feeling of community here amongst the different traditions,” Pfaff said. “We’re sensitive to have as many voices (in the ceremony) as possible.”