In times of pain, joy finds a way


A creative ensemble singing and speaking about how people felt about the devastating fire. Photo credit: Hana Beaty

Goosebumps arose as the Butte County Scottish Society Pipes and Drums marched down the aisles of the Paradise Performing Arts Center playing “When the Battle is Over” to a mass of Camp Fire survivors.

On Sunday afternoon PPAC held “Joy Will Find a Way,” an event focused on spotlighting Butte County’s resilience through music, art and poetry. Hundreds of people attended and dozens performed to process the devastating year.

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Putting on a production Joy Will Find Away in Paradise honors of all of those who was effected by the fire last year. Photo credit: Hana Beaty

Performances included original songs, poems and dramatic recounts of the morning of the fire. A reenactment called “Story of Our Catastrophe” included performers recounting multiple narratives of waking up to the fire and their relentless journey to escape. It was an emotional performance that set the tone for the rest of the event.

Audience members kept silent except for the fervent applause between acts, careful to catch every word of each artist.

Mark McKinnon
With a powerful voice Mark McKinnon sung a powerful ballad along with playing his guitar and friends. Photo credit: Hana Beaty

After the theatrical recount of the fire, original poems and songs followed, eventually leading to a moment of remembrance for each lost soul in the Camp Fire. The Paradise Symphony Orchestra played respectfully to the projected images of the 85 victims lost, including those unidentified and without images.

“To hope is to root for those small, slender blades of green which signal to our hearts that Nature is making sense of our disaster, and joy will find a way,” Director David Leon Zink said.

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Wren Tuatha wrote a poem about the impact of the fire called The New Abnormal. Photo credit: Hana Beaty

As Butte County copes with the rehabilitation of new life, so does the community. Strong community ties and togetherness is a standing theme as Butte County continues to restore itself. Through moments and events like “Joy Will Find a Way,” survivors are able to heal and gain understanding as time passes.

To participate in community events and shows at PPAC, more information can be found at the Paradise Chamber of Commerce’s website.

Melissa Joseph can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @melisstweetz.