LAKE PLACID — On a misty afternoon this past Sunday, with fresh bouquets of flowers in hand, a local family delivered a message of love from here to Newtown, Conn.
Karen Angelopoulos is the district clerk for Lake Placid Central School District. Every day, she helps foster the work of educating and protecting hundreds of children in Lake Placid schools.
She found the tragic events of last Friday heartbreaking, a sentiment understood across the world.
But her family took a little time to deliver a message directly to the Connecticut town at the epicenter of a tragedy.
SIGNS OF LOVE
Karen is also a “hockey mom;” her son, Tucker, plays goalie for the Lake Placid Blue Bombers team.
“Our boys were playing in Brewster this weekend,” she said Monday. “It is not far from Newtown, so my daughter, my husband and I decided to go there and leave a memorial message.”
The streets of the small town, which is much the same in population as Lake Placid, were mobbed with visitors coming to pay respects and pray at streetside memorials and in parks adorned with angels and flowers.
“You drive into town past two churches,” Karen said, “and it was Sunday; there were lots of cars. There are balloons hanging on the bridge as you come into town. And as you drive down the road, there are angels standing together, made out of wood. And the cars lined up.
“My daughter, Alexa, and I got out and walked down to one memorial. We brought bouquets of flowers, and we made a sign that says: ‘Lake Placid, NY loves you.’
“There was so much traffic. We walked about a half-mile to where the memorial was. Oh my goodness. It was so busy, they had police directing traffic. People were walking to the memorials, carrying flowers and candles.”
Flower-strewn street corners held impromptu messages, lit candles, stuffed toys and white balloons, which left a lasting impression on the Lake Placid messengers.
“We put our flowers with the other flowers,” Karen said.
“I liked the placement of the sign (in the center) so that people could see that our community was thinking of them. It was so warming to see everyone pouring into their quaint little town to offer support and condolences.”
Then the Angelopoulos family traveled on together to their son’s hockey game.
Among hundreds of people from near and far who traveled to Newtown, President Barack Obama was there on Sunday, too. He spoke during an Interfaith memorial ceremony Sunday night and met with families of the 20 children and six teachers and staff members who lost their lives to a gunman last Friday.
His message was much the same as the one the Angelopoulos family delivered.
“They lost their lives in a school that could have been any school, in a quiet town full of good and decent people that could be any town in America,” the president said Sunday. “I come to offer the love and prayers of a nation.”
On Monday, Harrietstown Town Supervisor Bob Bevilacqua and Councilman Ron Keough affixed bows to the Town Hall entry pillars in the colors of Sandy Hook Elementary School as a tribute to the lives lost Friday.
Bevilacqua and Saranac Lake Mayor Clyde Rabideau said the tragedy is “unthinkable at any time” but even more difficult coming just before Christmas.
“We’ve heard stories of people taking down their holiday lights and, in effect, canceling their Christmas because of this tragedy,” Bevilacqua and Rabideau said in a joint statement. “But, we encourage the people of our community and of our region to instead celebrate, to give and, most of all, to enjoy this special time of year with peace and joy in our hearts and to spread that peace and joy to every person encountered.
“On this Christmas, we all are from Newtown, and we need to celebrate for them — for the families of the mothers, daughters and wives who died while trying to protect ‘their kids’ and for those 20 young souls taken far too soon.”
Back at her post in the school on Monday, Karen Angelopoulos also had thoughts to share: “Hug your kids, hug them every day,” she said.
“Practice those emergency drills. Those teachers practicing their drills was huge in saving lives.”
Email Kim Smith Dedam: email@example.com
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS
Several Facebook sites for children and school staff lost in the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School are beginning to share messages from all over the world.
The community in Newtown established a Facebook page to help support the small school: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sandy-Hook-Elementary-School-Fund/470592852986691
Another page is expressly established In Loving Memory of Sandy Hook Elementary Victims at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/In-Loving-Memory-Of-Sandy-Hook-Elementary-Victims/449143508477334
The full text of President Obama's remarks in Newtown is online at: http://www.cnn.com/2012/12/16/politics/obama-newtown-remarks-text/?hpt=po_c1