Some Atlantic City residents decided they would not allow difficult events in 2012 to get them down.
Instead, a dozen of them gathered Friday at Horace Bryant Park to promote healing one another and the rest of the community.
The event was organized by Westside neighborhood resident Karen Jones, who said she noticed sadness among her neighbors after recent events including Hurricane Sandy, the shootings in Newtown, Conn., the deaths of city residents and local violence. She said she wanted people to come together.
“We’re here to reflect on 2012. A lot of people are very sad, but we’re going to give them a little hope,” she said. “People in this community have been together through thick and thin. We’re not here to protest anything. We’re here to heal.”
Along the fence overseeing the water, Jones had cut out hearts with the names of city residents who died in 2012 as well as the victims of the Newtown shootings.
Participants held candles and stood in a half circle. Jones instructed each member to describe a quality they hope to impart on one another and their neighbors to affect change.
The residents responded with traits such as love, peace, forgiveness and respect.
At the end of the ceremony, the residents each lit a small balloon and allowed it to drift into the dark sky.
“Everything that happened in the past is now gone,” she said. “It’s in the past forever.”
Resident Eddie Morgan, a music teacher in the Pleasantville school district, said he thinks it’s important for more residents to bring problems to light and show there are solutions.
“We know we have problems. We know the community has drugs and guns and violence,” he said. “It’s being done by people with no hope. They have no perspective to do something positive.”
Somers Point resident Jeanne Vautier attended to support the cause and its message. She said the resort has a negative image and she wanted to participate in something positive.
“There’s a lot of good in Atlantic City, and people don’t see it,” she said.
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