PARKLAND (CBSMiami) — Pine Trails Park in Parkland has evolved as the heartland of a community’s heartbreak after the massacre of 17 students and faculty members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
People come to the park to place memorials, to hold each other, to remember 17 “angels” taken from them, and represented by 17 angel figures on an amphitheater stage.
Parkland resident Marilyn Manly said Tuesday she had to come.
“It just seems difficult for everyone, and these poor kids, somebody has to mourn for them, so that’s why I’m here,“ Manly said.
Douglas High student, Gillian Beard, lost her dear friend, Nicholas Dworet, a swimmer bound for college on an athletic scholarship. As she wept over his memorial, there was determination in her tears.
“I just want to say our voices will never be silenced,“ Beard said, crying. “You will hear us from here until the end, until something is changed.“
Right beside the field of anger and sorrow in the park is a family assistance center where at least 15 agencies are providing no-cost crisis and spiritual counseling, crime victim services, victim compensation, healthcare, and even travel assistance to help bring relatives in from out of town for funerals and support.
Runner Josh Gallagher lost friends and his beloved track coach Scott Beigel in the massacre and came to the center for counseling.
“I thought it was pretty helpful, made me feel better talking about it, knowing that people are going through the same thing that I am,” Gallagher said.
The assistance center closes Friday night but the help will not stop.
“We are going to make sure that these folks get what they need, not just for today, but in the long run as well,“ said Ryan Logan of the American Red Cross, which is coordinating the assistance effort.
The assistance center will remain open from 9 AM until 7 PM through this Friday. It is located at the Parkland Recreational and Enrichment Center, 10559 Trails End in Parkland, inside Pine Trails Park.
In the adjoining field, a much-needed therapy continued amid all the candles and the crosses.
“It helps you to heal, to see this,“ said Marilyn Manly of the photographs and memorials to the victims.
“It’s amazing to see how much everybody loved them,“ said Manly’s daughter, Mikayla.
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