Tuesday 12 December 2017

Town in mourning flooded with gifts

Mourners line the street as a hearse carrying Emilie Parker drives by following a funeral service (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Mourners line the street as a hearse carrying Emilie Parker drives by following a funeral service (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Newtown's children have been showered with gifts - tens of thousands of teddy bears, Barbie dolls, footballs and board games - and those are only some of the tokens of support from around the world for the town in mourning.

Just a little over a week ago, 20 children and six school employees were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Twenty-year-old Adam Lanza killed his mother, attacked the school, then killed himself. Police don't know what set off the massacre.

Days before Christmas, funerals were still being held, the last of those whose schedules were made public, according to the Connecticut Funeral Directors Association. A service was held on Saturday in Ogden, Utah, for six-year-old Emilie Parker. Others were held in Connecticut for Josephine Gay, seven, and Ana Marquez-Greene, six.

A horse-drawn carriage brought the miniature coffin of Ana to The First Cathedral church in Bloomfield, Connecticut, where 1,000 mourners gathered to bid goodbye.

The service included a performance by Harry Connick, Jr, who has played with the girl's jazz saxophonist father, Jimmy Greene.

Family members remembered her as wild-haired child with her own love of music. "Ana had a song," said the Rev Paul Echtenkamp of Glory Chapel International Cathedral in Hartford. "It just came out of her."

In Ogden, people tied pink ribbons around trees and telegraph poles in memory of Emilie Parker. Her father, Robert Parker, was one of the first parents to publicly talk about his loss and he expressed no animosity for the gunman.

Dozens of emergency responders paid their respects at the start of the service for Josephine at St Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Newtown, walking through the church and up to the altar

All of Newtown's children were invited to Edmond Town Hall, where they could choose a toy. Bobbi Veach, who was fielding donations at the building, reflected on the outpouring of gifts from toy stores, organisations and individuals around the world.

"It's their way of grieving," Ms Veach said. "They say, 'I feel so bad, I just want to do something to reach out.' That's why we accommodate everybody we can."

Press Association

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