AUBURN — The woman’s name was Brandi and she couldn’t stop herself from crying. She was tying a bundle of flowers to the end of the bridge at Bonney Park, but it was raining hard and her hands were shaking.

“This is just so sad,” Brandi said. “So tragic.”

Nearby, Sue Ingalls was there with her daughter and granddaughter. They, too, had brought flowers and a toy dinosaur in tribute to a pair of boys who went into the raging Androscoggin River two nights before.

“I didn’t even know these boys, but I’m so sad,” Ingalls said. “It’s such a horrible, horrible thing. I’m glad we could at least come out and show a little support for the family.”

As support goes, there was a lot of it. On the foot bridge between Lewiston and Auburn on Thursday night, hundreds turned out in vigil for the boys and for their parents.

“I can’t even imagine what it would be like to lose a child that young,” said 22-year-old Kayla Murray of Lewiston. “I don’t think anyone can.”

Murray said she mourned the 5-year-old who was presumed drowned, but she was also out in support of the boy’s 9-year-old brother, who remained at a Portland hospital Thursday night.

“I hope he knows what a hero he is — how brave he is,” Murray said. The older brother had tried to save the 5-year-old when he fell into the river.

Turnout was so heavy for the vigil, those who attended were shoulder to shoulder for a time from one end of the bridge to the other. Rain that was at times heavy did not dissuade them. By 7 p.m., the bridge was jammed and there were more people arriving from both sides.

“It’s so great,” said April Thompson, “that so many people have come out for this.”

A grandmother of four, like so many others, Thompson said she couldn’t fathom the kind of grief being faced by the family of the boys. Her daughter, 18-year-old Tiffany Burgess, was likewise struggling with tears before she had even stepped foot on the bridge.

“I feel like I’m going to cry,” she said. “So for now I’m just going to stand here. Even when you don’t know the people involved, it’s hard to handle. It’s such a tragedy.”

The bridge was festooned with dozens of flowers, balloons, teddy bears and other trinkets. Toy dinosaurs were everywhere: Earlier in the day, a man who said he was uncle to the boys revealed that the 5-year-old lost to the river had been particularly fond of the creatures.

The man, who lives in Augusta, said the family motto is, “This I’ll Defend,” and the slogan caught on quick. Before the vigil had even begun, signs bearing that message had been taped or tied in numerous areas in and around Bonney Park.

The boys and their parents have not been identified, but those who turned out Thursday night did not seem to mind. When it came to providing emotional support for the strangers, they were all in.

“It’s amazing to see the community come together like this,” said 19-year-old Devon Klemanski of Lewiston.

The uncle of the boys had contacted vigil organizers earlier in the day.

“He said they’re watching,” said Linda Doucette Scott, who began an effort to bring flowers to Bonney Park on Wednesday, “and that they appreciate what we’re doing.”

While the hundreds stood with candles and signs and mementos, Shawn Bell stood near the center of the bridge playing hymns and other songs on an acoustic guitar. A crowd of people gathered around her, singing along in the pouring rain.

About 10 minutes after she started playing, the clouds parted and the sun came out for a few minutes before day turned to night. Then, in the darkness, too many candles to count flickered along the length of the bridge as the river rushed by below.

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