WILKES-BARRE -- The sun had set, but the vigil flames flickered and illuminated the 26 paper nameplates placed on the small yellow school chairs in a corner of Public Square on Wednesday evening.
Silently, adults and children lit white candles by passing their light from one person to the next. Tears streamed down the faces of some, while others bowed their heads to pay respects to the victims of the Newtown, Conn. shooting rampage that left 26 dead, including 20 children.
The light represents the light of the children whose earthly presence no longer shines, said Rabbi Roger Lerner, a vigil organizer. We offer candles to represent spirits that no longer remain.
The Interfaith Council of the Wyoming Valley hosted a candlelight vigil for the Sandy Hook Elementary School community.
While the Wyoming Valley community is only a few hours drive from Newtown, about 100 residents gathered to grieve, respect and recognize the children and adults whom Lerner described as light that will only live on in our hearts.
It really shows that Wyoming Valley steps up to the plate when things are happening, said Linda Dante of Plymouth. It shows our feelings and respect when people go through tragedy.
Two friends, Morgan Malone and Devin Holmes, who also attended an assembly at Wyoming Seminary dedicated to the Sandy Hook event, agreed that the vigil was important for this community.
It shows that we are tight-knit and have compassion, said Holmes, 17. This could have been us, and we need to get out the message of support.
The half-hour program included an invocation, moment of silence, candle ceremony and benediction.
I came out of the respect for the victims, said Dante. I'm familiar with pains people are going through. I lost my son to a gun incident and know what it feels like.
During the candle-lighting ceremony, Lerner read the names of each of the victims while a member of the crowd simultaneously lit one of the 26 candles.
It's such a tragedy, the children were so young, said Dante. It's heartbreaking and it takes your breath away.
At the end of the ceremony residents had the chance to look at each of the nameplates, which had a description of each victim.
This gives people a way to express sympathies and show Newtown that we care, Lerner said. They need that coming from every corner of the world.