Sunday, June 17, 2018

Pulse 2 Year Memorial

June 12, 2018 marked 2 years since the massacre of 49 people at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. Barbara Poma the owner of the club held a vigil at the nightclub to honor those lost. She founded Pulse for her brother who was gay and died from Aids. The name of the club was meant to keep his pulse alive. Now that Pulse is looking to keep 49 other peoples memories alive as well. An interim memorial was installed on the site featuring landscaping and design from Dix Hite Partners. A large photo mosaic mural was wrapped around the the building. The mural incorporates hundreds of photos pulled from the Orange County History Center's collection.

Pam Schwartz and I went to the memorial on June 12, 2018 just before sunset for the memorial and celebration of life. I decided to stop and sketch the iconic Pulse sign since I figured it might be difficult to get a view of the stage. Pam ended up sitting close to the stage since she is involved with the Pulse memorial task force. The base of the sign had been encased in a solid plastic case which lit up as it grew dark. People could sign the plastic with whiteboard markers that were supplied. These messages could be periodically erases so new messages could be added. A father stood his small daughter on his shoulders so she could sign high up.

Several of the Sisters of  Perpetual Indulgence stood on the far side of the sign. They wore black nun habits and one wore a rainbow veil held in place by Mickey Mouse ears. The angels were out in force although I doubt all 49 were there with their PVC and bed sheet fabric wings. Jen Vargas was an angel and she sat in her electric wheel chair wearing the large wings. She has been through surgery and seeing an angel in a wheel chair seemed appropriate for the occasion. A teenage daughter hugged her mom in front of me. Barbara Poma spoke, but her voice was so soft I couldn't catch a word.

Politicians took to the stage. Each had a set script which was interpreted in Spanish on a teleprompter so Spanish speaking members of the audience could understand what was being conveyed. County Mayor Theresa Jacobs went off script and the planned interpretation had to stop. County Commissioner Patty Sheehan was in the crowd early on,  but she disappeared before all the political speeches. One man had sound muffling ear phones on and he shook and hugged his dog. I thought he might be crying, but I think he just isn't used to being out in public.

Blue and her dancers performed on the stage which unfortunately I couldn't see since the crowd was so thick. A chorus sang a bilingual Somewhere Over the Rainbow medley that incorporated songs from Wicked. The song Changed for the Better was included and it is a song I have found inspiring since the day I first saw the show. A rainbow formed across the club and cell phones rose in tribute to record the moment.

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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