Father and son continue Good Friday tradition

By Beau Ebenezer

March 29, 2013 Updated Mar 29, 2013 at 9:52 PM CDT

PEKIN Ill -- It was a typical Good Friday in Pekin, as one bare-footed man made a traditional walk that's been taking place for the last 21 years.

"It started the first year just by myself, and I think the Pekin Times were the only ones who covered it," said Paul Helmig. "Now, 22 it's years later and we are expanding out."

This year, it was not Paul Helmig dressing up as Jesus like he has every year since 1991to remind every one of the meaning of Easter.

This year, it was his middle son, Travis Helmig, who put off an employment move for three months to take his fathers place, due to a foot injury.

"He was not going to hand the reigns over to anyone," said Travis. "You're going to have to physically take them out of his hands. I told him that he was not going to do this and that I would. To see the look on his face right now, it's the best going away present I could have given him."

As Travis made his push through the streets of Pekin carrying a 10 foot, 50 pound cross, people stopped to watch and took pictures all along the way.

"I hope they think to tell their kids about this during Easter. While they are doing the eggs and while they are doing all of that, just talk about why we celebrate Easter. If it gets just one person, that would be great. I know that's my dad's goal."

Travis traveled down a three mile path just like his father has done for the past two decades. Family friends said the emotional uplift from those passing by was stronger than ever.

"There is just such an awesome presence that fills me every time I see this," said Geraldine Clauson. "When I see him do this I just want to weep and cry , and it's not because of him. It is who it represents."

Paul was at a loss for words watching someone else, let alone his own son, play Jesus for the first time.

He said he is going to pray for Travis to make the trip back each year to do the walk on Good Friday.