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Vigil mourns victims

Hundreds attend Broadalbin event

December 21, 2012
LEVI PASCHER , The Leader Herald

BROADALBIN - Some people cried, some sang and others came to show their support Thursday night at a candlelight vigil in memory of the Newtown, Conn., shooting victims, including one who had a local connection.

"This is great to see the community gather like this, and it just shows how close we are as a community," said Broadalbin Mayor Eugene Christopher, who attended the vigil.

Hundreds of people lined up on Main Street starting at the First Presbyterian Church.

Article Photos

Above, people stand with candles along West Main Street in front of the
First Presbyterian Church in Broadalbin for a prayer vigil Thursday to remember those killed in the Newtown, Conn., shootings

The victims of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School included an educator who had a house and relatives in the area.

Sandy Hook Principal Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, 47, had a vacation house on Lakeview Road in Broadalbin, and her mother, Cheryl Lafferty, lives in Broadalbin. Hochsprung also had other relatives who live in Fulton County, including an aunt and uncle.

Authorities say Hochsprung died while trying to stop the gunman.

Thursday's vigil remembered all 26 people who lost their lives in last Friday's tragedy, in which gunman Adam Lanza walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School and opened fire, killing children and adults.

Approximately 1,000 people formed a chain between the Presbyterian Church on West Main Street and the Broadalbin Methodist Church on North Main Street. Participants at the vigil held candles for 30 minutes.

Valentine Shaw of Simsbury, Conn., who attended the vigil, said her granddaughter, Sydney Bruno, is a kindergartner at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The child was not injured in the shooting, but the family is still feeling the effects, Shaw said.

"Dawn was her beloved principal, and unfortunately, my granddaughter had to walk by the body as she walked

out of the school that day," Shaw said. "To see this kind of support, even though it is miles away, is really amazing, and I appreciate every one of these people, although I can't thank them personally."

Chauncey McCormick of Johnstown came to the vigil to support her friend, local resident Lisa Pfeiffer, who is an aunt of Hochsprung.

"This event really does my heart good, and I just told her that I was down by the church if she needed a hug," McCormick said. "She is going through an awful lot right now, and a friend knows when to back off and give your friend space."

Eileen Broyles of Hagaman was at the vigil to show her support for those lost in the tragedy.

"It was just unbelievable to hear that something like that happened to children," Broyles said. "All of these people here tonight is a wonderful show of support, and it just shows how tight-knit our community really is and that we were all affected in a different way."

A third-grade teacher from the Broadalbin-Perth district, Kim Sikora, was at the vigil. She said the number of people lining the streets spoke loudly about the amount of support the community has for those affected by the tragedy.

Some people at the vigil said there is a need for tougher gun-control laws.

"We have the right to bear arms in the U.S., but there is no need for people to have access to something like an AK-47," said Jomarie Cornell, owner of Cutting Edge Family Hair Salon in Broadalbin. "No one is going to go hunting with that type of weapon, so really, what is the need for it?"

A 50-year member of the Broadalbin American Legion, John Davidczuk, agreed with Cornell's opinion.

"It is sad, but a lot of families have to take control of their children," Davidczuk said. "Assault weapons aren't for every person, and we really need to be careful with who has access to that kind of weaponry."

Vigil organizers Katie Bolibaugh and Sandy Bruse of Broadalbin said they wanted to give people the opportunity to grieve and show their support.

"We just needed a way to show the family we support them and we are here for them if they need us," Bolibaugh said. "It is also a way for us to grieve together as a community."

Christopher said he was proud to see the community gather in such large numbers to show support for the victims.

"When one is struggling, we all are struggling; that is just the way Broadalbin is," Christopher said.

When the vigil concluded at 7:30 p.m., the bell at the Methodist church rang for each of the 26 victims at the Sandy Hook school.

After the vigil, there was a fellowship at the Father Smith Center at St. Joseph's Church.



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