BURRILLVILLE – On a cold, rainy night in the village of Harrisville, church bells sounded Monday night in remembrance of the 500,000 American lives lost in Covid-19-related deaths in the past year.
Acknowledgement of the solemn landmark was in keeping with similar events held on Monday, Feb. 22 in the U.S. Capitol, and other communities across the nation.
In the village, two churches just over 400 feet apart took part in the remembrance. Starting at 7 p.m., the bells at both Berean Baptist and First Universalist Churches rang 500 times.
Betty Mencucci and her brother Ken Hopkins, who works as the janitor for the Universalist church, got involved after they were contacted by Kelly Hunt from Berean Baptist. Hunt also reached out to other area churches, and as a result, bell-ringing took place at Saint Eugene Parish and Chepachet Union Church.
Mencucci noted that ringing an 840 pound bell 500 times from below is no easy task. The large bell sits just below the clock in the steeple of the 135-year-old structure.
“It was super hard,” she said.
Hopkins did the bulk of ringing, with his grandson and Mencucci filling in.
“He couldn’t do too much,” Mencucci said of the grandson. “I did some but it was very exhausting.”
For awhile, the pair pulled together on the long rope, with Hopkins’ wife serving as the “counter,” to ensure the bell rang 500 times in concert with the neighboring church.
The ringing could be heard throughout the village for a total of around 17 minutes.
“The Berean church finished just a little before us,” Mencucci said. “We were all exhausted.”
Still, she said, “It was a good event. I think it was good that they planned this.”