Candlelight vigil brought together the family that is Webster

30 Dec

Click any photo to see a gallery with many more.

I have never loved Webster more than I did last night.

Despite near-blizzard conditions, an estimated 300 people gathered inside and outside Barry’s Old School Irish last night for a candlelight vigil to honor the firefighters who died and were injured in the terrible events of Christmas Eve.  Danny and Jessica Barry weren’t even planning to open their doors until 6:30, but when people started showing up before 6:00, there was no way they were going to make them stand out in the cold. By 6:30 there were so many people packed into the little pub that new arrivals were invited to go to the Garage Sale Store next door to stay warm. In the meantime, a small army of helpers prepared luminaries for the patio tables, and assembled wind-proof candles to hand out  to vigil participants.

The mood was somber, but the conversations were comforting as friends met up with friends and strangers jumped in to help with final preparations.  It was like…we were there for each other as much as we were there for the firefighters.

The vigil itself was wonderful. Judge Michael Barry and his son (and Barry’s Old School Irish owner) Danny Barry had some very beautiful comments. And when Fr. Bob Werth read the Firefighter’s Prayer, its final sentence pretty much brought everyone to tears :

And if according to your will
I have to lose my life
Please bless with your protecting hand
my children and my wife.

But it was when the whole crowd sang “Amazing Grace,” led by Sarah King, that I pretty much lost it.

Last night was an moving testament to the incredible community that is Webster.  We are nothing less than a big extended family, and when one — or more — of those family members needs our help, we’re there in a heartbeat. I think my new friend Dave Gambino put it best. As he sat at Barry’s pub table last night, helping with candle preparation, he said, “We have an excellent community.”

Yup. That pretty much sums it up.

And, by the way, that generous Webster spirit did not end with the vigil. People hung around for many hours afterwards in Barry’s enjoying the companionship, live music, and free Wren Day snacks. And by the end of the evening, they had stuffed the tip jars placed throughout the pub with more than $500, to be donated to the West Webster Fire Department.

Even if you were not able to join us in person last night, if you have any connection with Webster, I am certain you were with us in spirit.   For that matter, it has become very clear that people all over the country — and the world — are thinking of us this week.

Click here to see a Facebook gallery of photos from the event. (And please email me your photos to add to my gallery.) You can also find coverage of the vigil on all the local news stations and newspapers.  Probably the best TV coverage is on Channel 10.  But you can also check these sites:

Channel 13

Channel 8

And a link to the article in the D&C

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