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Vigil in Pittsfield Honors Victims of Boston Marathon Explosions

Lucas Willard

Local clergy met with members of the Pittsfield community at the Lichtenstein art gallery to hold a candlelight vigil to pay tribute to victims of the bomb attacks at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Three were killed and more than 170 were wounded in the attacks.

The public joined an interfaith prayer service to remember those lost.

Quentin Chin, Interim Pastor at the South Baptist Church in Pittsfield, led songs and prayers.

"This is an opportunity really for all of us to find some sort of expression in ritual action," said Chin.

Those who attended lit candles and also wrote messages on paper shoes placed on a display resembling a road for those who were injured and their families. Those taking place in the rituals remained nearly silent as they reflected on the attacks.

Erin Sullivan of Hospice Care in the Berkshires helped organize the event. Because the planning only began at 10:30 am Tuesday morning, she said volunteers used social media to help get the message of the vigil out quickly.

"All of our notification was either through email, or Facebook, or Twitter," said Sullivan. "I think it was a great way for our community together to support each other."

Josie Ellis, a Pittsfield resident who ran the race but was unable to cross the finish line because of the explosions, attended the service with her family wearing a medal and jacket. Ellis didn’t speak at the vigil but said she wanted to bring her children to the service.

"My daughters were really nervous. The reason we came tonight was just they hadn't been at the heart of a tragedy,” said Ellis. "They were really there and they witnessed it and I just wanted them to be a part of a community of faith, that there's people in the world, and there are other people that are thinking of them."

Ellis said she’ll remember the race as not something she did for herself.

"It wasn't about me finishing," said Ellis. "It's very sad, it's about what happened."

When asked if she’ll run another marathon, Ellis’ daughters answered for their mother...

Pittsfield mayor Dan Bianchi spoke at the event, and police chief Michael Wynn and State Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier also attended. Grief counselors also offered their services for those affected by the events.  

After an offering of peace among those present including hugs and handshakes, the small crowd concluded the solemn vigil.

Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.
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