Monday, May 14, 2018

Unloading Pulse Memorial Items at Off-Site

After clearing memorial items away from the Pulse Nightclub,we drove to the onePULSE Foundation storage facility. While all the staff and Barbara Poma went upstairs to the air conditioned storage facility, I remained behind with the truck in the entrance bay. Call me paranoid but I didn't want to leave the truck unattended. In Parkland, Florida where 17 students and faculty were killed in a mass shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, there was a memorial set up outside the high school with thousands of flowers, banners, teddy bears, and pin wheels. A drunk and disorderly couple were seen by a witness taking items from the memorials of the Parkland shooting victims and putting them in their truck.

A witnesses said they saw 37-year-old Michael Shawn Kennedy and 40-year-old Kara O’Neil taking items from a fence outside the High School. When police arrived they found the items in the couple's car. A deputy also saw Kennedy placing a box of pinwheels in the vehicle. They claimed they were going to set up their own memorial. One deputy noted that Kennedy said, "I ripped down the anti-gun banner because I am pro-gun."

According to the incident report, these items from the memorial were found in their car: a Parkland athletics trophy, a shadowbox with photos of the 17 victims, 17 white metal angel pennants, dedication plaques that say "The Mighty Seventeen" and "MSD Parkland Strong", 3 white teddy bears, an anti-gun banner, 25 pinwheel lawn ornaments some with the victims' names, American flags, and a red stone that says "Never Again." It is hard to imagine what was going through their drunken heads.

After leaving the onePULSE Foundation facility, the Orange County Regional History Center staff went to the off site facility for their museum collection. After Hurricane Irma, that storage facility suffered damage when an air conditioning hatch blew off and gouged multiple holes in the warehouse roofing. Water soaked drop-ceiling insulation and tile panels, until they were so heavy that they crashed down exploding on the concrete floor like bombs.  All of the inside walls in the warehouse had to be replaced to keep the historic items from being over run with black mold. Dehumidifiers ran for weeks to suck moisture from the air. Pulse memorial items still on the floor were once again subjected to water, but a heroic effort was made to dry and restore everything and not a single item was lost.  The new Pulse memorial items were paced on palettes. With the two year exhibit opening on June 2, some of these memorial items might end up on display, which will be up much longer that the 7 days that the One Year Later exhibit was open last year. That exhibit had to come down to make way for a wedding reception. This year's exhibition will focus on the new stories the History Center has learned and on what has changed for Orlando since last year.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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