Bittersweet would be an apt term to describe Easter Sunday morning, April 21, at Simkins Park, as local residents, family and friends witnessed the unveiling of a memorial in memory of Pahrump resident Cassandra Selbach, who passed away in January.
Selbach, a prominent figure in Pahrump, began the tradition of hosting the annual free Easter Day celebration, just as her late father did many years ago in the community of Amargosa Valley where she and her brother Daniel grew up.
“I have known Cassandra for about eight years,” said friend Ryan Muccio, who also read the Romans 8:28 passage from the Bible. “She was a great friend to the community as well as a personal friend of mine. She became like my sister. I’m a single child so she and her brother became like my siblings. I couldn’t have asked for a better friend and sister. She was just an amazing person and it is awesome to be here to honor her today.”
Local KPVM-TV 25 Reporter and News Director Deanna O’Donnell was also a close friend of Selbach, who died of a systemic autoimmune disease at age 35 on Jan. 23.
It was O’Donnell who spearheaded the memorial effort with the assistance of town of Pahrump Buildings and Grounds Supervisor Matt Luis and local businessman Ron Murphy.
“I think it is a beautiful rock and plaque to honor Cassandra and her family for everything that they have given to our community,” O’Donnell said Sunday. “Her boys were here today, as well as her brother DJ, along with Wendy and Matthew King, who were her dearest friends. I think that this is something that will help heal the pain of loss while recognizing someone who has done so much for our community.
“There are memories that are made here every year that you can never replace. Ron Murphy, Jimmy Martinez, and Matt Luis, with the town of Pahrump, all helped put this together, and I’m really excited that they had it in their hearts to do such a wonderful job with this,” O’Donnell said.
Following the unveiling of the memorial, it was Selbach’s brother, Daniel Mills, who offered up a very poignant and heartfelt message for his sister.
“For those of you who knew Cassandra, the last thing she would want us to do is stand around a rock and be sad on Easter morning,” Mills said. “Easter is about joy, happiness and excitement. Today on this Easter morning, it’s about new beginnings.
“While Cassandra and the memories we had with her will never go away, we must find peace transitioning from the sadness and mourning to joy and happiness. That is what Cassandra would have wanted and that is what we must do.
“Let us use this stone and plaque not as a reminder of the sadness of Cassandra’s passing, but as a reminder to live our lives in a way that glorifies God, and honors Cassandra. The event today represents Cassandra’s unwavering love for God, her family and this community, so let us go about today knowing that Cassandra’s spirit is in each and every Easter egg and will be between every blade of grass in this park. Thank you.”
A walk in the park
Regarding the community Easter Day celebration, Muccio, meanwhile said volunteers spent many hours filling thousands of colorful Easter eggs for kids to seek out.
Face painting, bounce houses and free hot dogs and water were all part of the event.
“The youngsters will be hunting for 18,000 eggs,” Muccio noted. “The volunteers put them all out at about four this morning. A lot of the eggs contain cash, which are the golden eggs, and each year when we’re hiding the eggs, we always find one or two golden eggs from the previous year with the money still in them. We get really creative when we’re hiding them. We’ve got the golden eggs with cash and we have some big eggs with a lot of candy stuffed in them. We also have sectioned off the park for the younger and older kids.”
Sunday’s Easter celebration also included a church service with words from Selbach’s friends Wes Clouser, Wesley Fancher and Wendy King.
Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter: @pvtimes