LEWISTON — As people filtered into Kennedy Park on Saturday, yellow balloons and markers were handed out so people could write personal messages to Donald Giusti.

Giusti, 38, was fatally beaten near the park one year ago during a fight involving teenagers.

Siana Reyes, 7, looks up at the balloon her mother, Diva, left, decorated for her during Saturday night’s vigil for Donnie Giusti in Kennedy Park in Lewiston. Their uncle/brother-in-law was fatally injured last year during a fight near the park.

One message, written by his niece, said, “I love you Uncle Donnie!” Others read “R.I.P. Donnie” or “We miss you, Donnie.”

After a brief prayer from resident Donald Walsh, everyone let their balloons go at the same time and watched as their well-wishes to Giusti floated toward the sky.

Many people wore T-shirts memorializing Giusti: One shirt had the words “Donnie Strong” printed across the front, while another — designed by Lewiston resident Hollie West — featured the silhouette of the Batman logo with “In Loving Memory of Donnie” written over it.

“Donnie liked Batman, and it felt like since this whole situation is an inner-city concern, and Batman dealt with inner-city issues, it was the right logo to have on the shirt,” West said.

“The idea is to raise money for Donnie’s daughter and to give people T-shirts they can wear all the time to remember him by,” West said. Giusti’s daughter is 13.

Brian Veres, Giusti’s older brother, said the turnout for the vigil was “great,” and that he believes “it’ll be even better and more organized next year.” Dozens attended Saturday night.

Family and friends release balloons in Kennedy Park on Saturday night in honor of Donald Giusti.

Veres said his family was considering holding a barbecue at Kennedy Park next year, similar to one that was held at the park in June 2018 in memory of Giusti.

“We had a barbecue this year with family, but I think it would be nice to have another one at Kennedy Park next year so the public can come out,” Veres said. “I think it’s important to keep Donnie’s name in people’s minds so they don’t forget.”

The vigil comes two months after police arrested three people in Giusti’s death: Emmanuel Nkurunziza, a 17-year old facing a manslaughter charge for allegedly throwing a rock that dealt Giusti a fatal blow when it hit him in the head; Pierre Musafiri, 23, charged with misdemeanor assault, and an unnamed 13-year old, also charged with misdemeanor assault.

As the vigil came to an end, Veres said it was nice to see people coming together to remember his brother.

“There’s obviously been a lot of emotions today,” Veres said. “It’s a tough day for all of us, but there’s also a lot of joking going on, and a lot of reminiscing about Donnie. Donnie would’ve loved this.”

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This Batman shirt was made to raise money for Donald Giusti’s family

Donnie Giusti’s family poses for a photo in Kennedy Park Saturday night during a brief ceremony to remember him.


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