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Message of love spread at Jim Thorpe vigil

Peace and love was the message at a vigil held in Jim Thorpe Friday night for victims of the Orlando mass shooting.

About 75 people formed a circle in Josiah White Park, singing and lighting candles for the 49 people who were killed in the attack in Pulse Nightclub on June 12.“It’s basically trying to promote love against hate. The lines to give blood in Orlando were 8 hours long. That is America, and this is too,” Marcus Colasurdo said.Attendees ranging from teenagers to senior citizens said they were there to show solidarity, and provide support for those affected by the shooting.Local singers like Vince DiGiosio, Matt Filer and Laura Scott shared poignant songs either on the topic of love, or overcoming hate.Scott’s original song was actually inspired by the attack, her friends who are gay and the acceptance she felt attending gay nightclubs with them.“They are such a community of love. The way I would feel going into a gay club was just accepted. There’s just so much love, appreciation and kindness that is there,” she said.Organizer Michelle Gallagher also held an event to honor the victims of the attacks in Paris last November. To start the vigil, she recited the many definitions of peace, with pain in her voice.“Peace is a state of mutual harmony among people. Peace is the freedom from civil commotion and violence in a community. Peace is public order, peace is security,” she said.At one point, attendees were asked to join hands and breathe in unison to symbolize the equality among living things.“I think it is important to gather together as a community and show that we can start here, right now,” Terry Opiela of Jim Thorpe said. “If you can’t love your neighbor, how are we going to fix the world?”The event almost didn’t happen. On Friday morning, the Carbon County Commissioners said they were revoking the permission given to Gallagher for the event because it was later announced that it was co-organized by Neil Makhija, a candidate for the 122nd legislative district.The commissioners said that they were not aware of this when permission was initially given, and the county has a policy of prohibiting political events on county property.Despite that, dozens of people attended.Makhija, who read the names of the 49 victims during the ceremony, said he felt that the community wanted a way to remember the victims of the Orlando mass shooting.“It’s already been a few days. Most towns did it the day after. I thought it was really important and obviously other people felt the same,” he said.Some attendees were also upset. Clarissa Colondo, a Marian Catholic student, said she knew she would attend immediately after the event was announced, and was even more emboldened when it was put in doubt.“I was actually pretty upset when they said tried to call the whole thing off,” Colondo said. “This is a peaceful event, and I was flabbergasted.”

Residents who attended a vigil for victims of the mass shooting in Orlando listened as the names of the victims were read CHRIS REBER/TIMES NEWS