SHARPSBURG, Md. — An annual memorial event at Antietam National Battlefield has been canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Park Service announced.

The 32nd Memorial Illumination that had been set for Dec. 5 will not take place this year, the Herald-Mail of Hagerstown reported Friday.

"Public health concerns, as well as the lead time needed to plan and execute this event, led the National Park Service and our partners to this mutual decision," park service spokeswoman Katie Liming wrote in an email.

The event involved tens of thousands of luminaria placed across the park in honor of those who were killed in the Civil War battle. Spectators viewed the illumination from their cars, but it took about 1,000 volunteers to set out and light the candles.

The park service "looks forward to seeing volunteers and visitors at the Annual Memorial Illumination in 2021," Liming wrote.