Kennedy Park candles, balloons memorialize Conn. victims

Amber Waterman/Sun Journal

Isaac Lindsey-Strout, 5, from Auburn, holds a candle during vigil in Kennedy Park Saturday night for the victims of the Newtown, Conn., shooting. Isaac was at the vigil with his father, Chris Strout, and about two dozen other people who came from as far away as Dexter.

LEWISTON — Maddison Cole, 7, and Braiden Boutilier, 6, brought Mylar balloons to Kennedy Park Saturday night with special messages written on the back.

"To all the little angels up in heaven. Love, Maddison," she said, reading her message.

Their plan to was to wait until the right moment and let them go, in memoriam to the victims in Newton, Conn.

The two were among 30 people that braved the 31-degree weather for an impromptu vigil in the park's center Saturday night.

Maddison's mom, Rebecca, of Dexter, drove up from Gray to take part in the vigil.

"I'm a mom, myself," Cole said. "We had an incident in Dexter about a year ago, so we know this can happen. It could have been our school."

The idea for the vigil was started by Lewiston's Jeanette Fowler on her Facebook page.

"I saw it on TV, and I said I want to do it," Fowler stated. "I want to do something." 

Fowler spread the word among friends and Maine news outlets. People began gathering about 8 p.m., carrying Yankee Candles in glass, stick candles, battery-powered votives and candle apps on their smart phones.

Danny Young, of Lewiston, and Ruth Slattery, of Sabattus, said they couldn't help but think of the victims.

"I have 28 grandchildren, and I've been crying ever since I heard of this," Slattery said. "I can't even fathom this happening."

Fowler briefly tried singing some Christmas carols, but it never caught on. The small group was content to wait in silence, sharing flames and relighting sputtering candles.

"This helps a little," Fowler said. "But I feel really bad for the families. I saw pictures of the little ones, the kids that got shot. And it's hard not to think of your own."

Braiden and Maddison waited with their balloons as long as they could, then let them go. Braiden's silver balloon flew right up, but Maddison's red balloon caught briefly in the branches of a Kennedy Park tree, before a breeze set it free.

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Steve  Dosh's picture

Kennedy Park candles, balloons memorialize Conn. victims

Jeanette Fowler 12.16.12 21:50 hst
Mahalo & †hanks .
Melé Kalikimaka from Hawai'i •


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