Monday, October 28, 2019

Parkland Collection Effort Townhall Meeting

On Valentines Day, February 14, 2018 a student entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida and began a shooting that killed 17 people and wounded 14 others. In March almost one month after the shooting Jeff Schwartz from the Parkland Historical Society invited Pam Schwartz from the Orange County Regional History Center went to Parkland to give advise on how items left at the Parkland Memorial might be collected and archived.  Several memorials had formed in Parkland following the shooting. One was at the high school along the fence that ran along the road in front of the school and another at the main stage at Pine Trails Park. An event was planned for the park so the memorials needed to be removed. A similar situation was faced in Orlando following the Pulse shooting in that makeshift memorials at Lake Eola had to be removed because of July 4th fireworks the following month.

The Parkland Historical Society is a small organization so they did not have the same resources that the Orange County Regional History Center had in Orlando. Instead of trained museum staff they needed rely on volunteers to collect and store memorial items. Pam offered practical advice on how to collect and preserve. A City hall employee took notes and a discussion began on the best practical approaches. Emotions ran high at the meeting since there is no one right answer about what is best for the community.

Volunteers dismantled the makeshift memorials on March 28, 2018. They took away the 17 white crosses and Jewish stars bearing the names of the students and faculty killed in the Valentine's Day shooting. At this City Hall meeting it was decided that it made sense for students, parents, and friends and family of victims, to take part in the effort. Teddy bears, posters, and hand written letters and poems were stored in cardboard boxes. They went to climate controlled storage at Florida Atlantic University and will be saved so that 100 years from now the memories will always remain alive.

Zachary Knudson, a sculptor who has done several public works of art and memorials, teamed up with other volunteers to donate their time and resources in planning a permanent tribute. There was talk among Parkland Historical Society members of vacuum sealing some memorial tribute items inside a glass container. However humidity and the intense Florida Sun make even vacuum sealed items impractical to preserve. This sculpture proposed by Zackery is more like a 15 foot tall prism or stained glass sculpture. Kevin Roth, the CEO of the Vistaglass Direct, a glass fabrication company is donating glass for the project. There have been talks of possibly placing the sculpture at Stoneman Douglass High School.

On February 14, 2019, one year after the shooting the community gathered at Pine Trails Park (10559 Trails End, Parkland, FL 33076) to remember and honor the 17 victims with a moment of silence. The City also hosted a brief Interfaith ceremony for the community. The park was be open both before and after the ceremony. Therapy dogs and counselors were be onsite throughout the day. In lieu of mementos, cards, flowers, pictures, or other such expressions of condolences, people were asked to bring a canned food items to support efforts as a day of service.

The Legislature passed a package to address school safety in wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the package included $1 million for a permanent memorial to the 17 victims at the high school in northwestern Broward County.

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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