The rain lifted on Friday afternoon, but hearts were heavy at a vigil for the 26 victims of the Sandy Hook School shooting.
East Hampton Village Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr. led the vigil under the light of the Hook Mill with its sails lit for the holiday season, just steps from a temporary memorial of 26 Christmas trees. The memorial was set up on Monday for those who lost their lives in the Newtown school, which Rickenbach reminded those who gathered is not so far away from East Hampton, just across the Long Island Sound.
Many descended on the Memorial Green with their children, some of whom first added ornaments to the already decorated Christmas trees — each has a sign with the name of the victim on it. Among the crowd were school administrators and teachers, police officers with their families, town officials, and volunteer emergency medical personnel and firefighters.
The hope for the vigil was that everyone take a moment to "pause, remember and reflect," the mayor said. "Hopefully, at the end of the service, we'll go as better individuals and all try to make the world a better place."
Members of the East Hampton Clericus offered prayers and readings from psalms. The Jewish Center of the Hamptons' Cantor Debra Stein performed a Hebrew song, while candles were lit — though the strong winds quickly extinguished most.
The Rev. Steven Howarth, of the First Presbyterian Church of Amagansett, said this time of year should be, for people of faith traditions, a time of joy. "As we turn to you, praying, for mothers and fathers whose arms will be empty this Christmas, whose hearts are broken, for students who witnessed carnage beyond anything they should ever have been exposed to, for police, EMS personnel, firefighter who responded on that day, for the trauma they experienced, intheir witnessing, for the community of Newtown, for this nation, for we have all been shook, because we have all been shook."
The mayor, members of the village board, and a member of the town board, read the names the of the 26 school shooting victims, while a bell rang for each of them from an East Hampton Fire Department firetruck parked close by.
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