Shaelja Patel was just putting up the sign Tuesday afternoon, but the trees had already been there for two days.
Her handmade message—"In Loving Memory of the Sandy Hook Victims"—is inked on poster board along Church Hill Road in Sandy Hook.
Next to Patel's sign are 26 small Christmas trees—one for each of the lives lost in last Friday's Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, where 20 children and six adults were killed by a lone gunman.
"The trees with blue lights are for the boys, and the pink lights are for the girls," Patel explained on the bleary Tuesday afternoon, as the nearby was winding down. "The black and red trees are for the adults."
"All the kids' trees have an angel on top," she added.
Patel's father owns Newtown Convenience and Deli on Church Hill Road, and installed the trees Sunday as a makeshift memorial.
It is one of many. Even motorists who pass through the region briefly on I-84 can glimpse the community's suffering; wreathes hang on exit signs along the roadway, and memorial banners are draped from highway overpasses.
In Sandy Hook, flags fly at half mast and churches like Trinity Episcopal have opened their doors for any and all to pray. Local businesses like Joshua E. Baum Orthodontics have pasted up missives similar to Patel's.
"We Cry and Weep With You," a banner reads.
Links to information, coverage for Patch readers:
- How to Help Families Affected by Newtown School Shooting
- How You Can Help: Memorial Donations For Sandy Hook Victims
- Newtown Pics & Clips
- Sandy Hook Victims Remembered: 'They Didn't Deserve Any of This'
- Dear Santa: Send Love to Newtown
- Newtown School Shootings: News Hub