A temporary memorial for the 26 victims of the Newtown school shooting is being erected in East Hampton.
Twenty-six Christmas trees with the names of each of the victims will be placed near the Hook Mill, according to Kathy Byrnes, who coordinated the memorial with Gerry Mooney, whom she works with at Windmill Village.
Mayor Paul Rickenbach Jr. and village administrator Larry Cantwell gave Byrnes the go-ahead as soon as she asked permission to use the village-owned property this morning, she said on Monday afternoon.
"They were very supportive. We told them that people in our community needed a place to gather and grieve," she said, adding that she was inspired by the Christmas tree memorials that had been erected in Newtown this weekend.
The mayor said he felt the memorial will give residents and passer-bys the opportunity to "pause and reflect on that tragedy."
"It just brings a little bit of the ability and caring and unselfishness from our community reaching out in a quiet way," Rickenbach continued. "I think it speaks volumes about the community and who we are."
Chris Diamond, who sells Christmas trees in the village, donated the trees, and Mooney, Joe Warren and Cesar and Geno Gonzalez gave their time putting the trees up. Brynes ordered signs with the names of each of the victims from Sign Language.
"My personal hope is that people will start decorating them themselves," Byrnes said. "I think people need a place to go. We're devastated," she said. "I'm hoping we can get a hold of some of the clergy and we can do a prayer service."
"I have a 7 year old. I am doing everything I possibly can to shield him from this," she said, adding that she fears it may have come up at his school on Monday.
The shooting may have happened across the sound, but it's created anxiety and nervousness everywhere. "I'd love to be able to say that it will never happen here," she said. "Newtown was a community like East Hampton."
The trees are being placed in a triangle formation without lights — as the windmill is already lit up, so people should be able to see them at night. "I don't want these victims to be forgotten. I think if we put these out here, it's a reminder every day of what happened," she said.
Asked how long the trees will stay up on the village green, Byrnes said, "As long as the mayor let's us keep them up."
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