Monday, June 20, 2016
Sunday night around 7:30pma vigil was held for the 49 victims and the survivor still recovering from terrorist shooting at the Pulse Nightclub south of downtown Orlando. I drove into Eola Heights and parking was hard to find. The side streets around Lake Eola were closed to traffic. Police, EMS, and Military were on hand to handle the exceptionally large crowd. Over 50,000 people were expected to show up.
At the North East corner of the park, a flower vendor was doing a brisk business. Walking around the park, I had to turn down religious pamphlets from every denomination. John Lennon was singing "Imagine if there is no heaven, it's easy if you try." For once, the canned Lake Eola music was right on the money. Shrines were being set up a the base of trees. I was offered flowers, but I wanted to keep my hands free to sketch.
I figured the Lake Eola band shell would be ground zero for all the politicians, and other speakers. The crowds grew thicker a I got closer. I finally decided to swing wide out to the street an that gave me a clear approach. There was a mulched path that no one used, so that gave me some space to work. As I started, three ducks appeared and they ambled past me, quacking as they foraged for food in the garden. A huge rainbow flag was lying on the grass and that made a perfect highlight to the foreground. It began to rain, so I put the computer away and waited for it to stop. A rainbow appeared over Lake Eola as if the evening was granted a divine approval.
When it got dark enough, everyone lit their candles. The crowd was dispersed all the way around the lake. Candler flames illuminated the entire shore. The crowd became a sea of flickering flames. The Pulse club owner began a chant that spread through the crowd, "Peace, Love, Pulse!" The Orlando community was out in force. I was so emotionally drained that I didn't have any more tears. The garden gave me a voyeurs cushion from the raw emotions. Instead, I focused my attention on the light emanating from the crowd. The names of the victims were read aloud to the now quiet crowd. Couples of all genders embraced. Love is love, and it should have no boundaries as defined by hate.
After the crowd dispersed, I walked around the lake to see all the candle shrines that were now everywhere. A five foot heard was covered in flowers and surrounded by candles. The stone sculpture of a woman lying in the garden covered by ground cover had hundreds of candles in her outstretched hand along with signs. Plastic red cups with candles inside were arranged in the shape of a heart. All the symbology was there, but the best way to heal would be to bring about positive change. Hopefully someday that change will come. But for now it is easy to pick up an assault rifle any day of the week here in Orlando.