Hundreds turned out Saturday to celebrate the life of Ethen Richardson, the Mount Pleasant 8-year-old who died from a form of brain cancer last week.

"Through his suffering he touched so many people," Todd Richardson, his father said at the gathering at Awendaw Green. "He sort of put your life in perspective."

His father wiped away a tear and then apologized, saying Ethen would not have wanted any tears.

His mother, Brandy Richardson, agreed.

"There was no sadness, ever, when it came to Ethen," she said. "He was special. Everybody loved Ethen. He got along with everybody all the time."

His positive spirt and ever present smile caught the attention of the nation. He was on television when the ball dropped in Times Square on New Year's Eve.

"He was just infectious; he was always positive," said Liz Potter, a family friend who helped organize the celebration. "We want him to look down (from heaven) and see everybody celebrating."

And celebrate they did. Children played on swings and jump castles, had their faces painted, ate cotton candy. Adults mingled and laughed and hugged and prayed.

Several tables were covered with bacon dishes, since bacon was Ethen's favorite food.

Parker Smith of Mount Pleasant had never tried chocolate-covered bacon, but he did Saturday in honor of Ethen.

"It's really not so bad," he said. He couldn't get his 2-year-old, Annabelle, to touch it.

Several local musicians donated their time, including "American Idol" finalist Elise Testone of Mount Pleasant.

The celebration was to end at dusk with a host of red lanterns floating up into the sky - toward Ethen, according to organizers.

Ethen died after battling an inoperable brain cancer called diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma. He was diagnosed last summer, and his battle drew prayers and followers from around the country.

His favorite saying, according to his family, was "This is going to be amazing."

Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553.