Interfaith ceremony comforts Parkland families at Pine Trails Park

Thousands of heart-shaped messages fill MSD memorial at park

PARKLAND, Fla. – An interfaith ceremony is being held at Pine Trails Park in Parkland Thursday in remembrance of the 17 victims killed in last year’s Valentine's Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

The work began early Thursday morning to shape and mold a walk-through memorial.

"Every victim is recognized. Every victim honored through love," Dale Mandell said. 

Mandell is the head of Hands on Broward, a volunteer action center that helped organize "Project Hearts."

"What we did is we put a stencil up on social media -- a white heart -- and it took off, and we ended up literally with hundreds of thousands of hearts with feelings and thoughts and prayers," Mandell said. 

The final product is on display at Pine Trails Park and includes the victims' names and photos next to unique heart-shaped messages of love.

"You know, I feel lost for my community," Mandell said she feels when she walks through the memorial. "I feel lost for these families who were once strangers and now they're people that I know to come and love and admire."

Across the park, volunteers, mourners and grief support specialists joined hands for a unified moment of silence -- a moment that allowed people to reflect on the challenges of the past year.

"We need to heal around here," one woman said. 

Healing has been a slow process that some people are still struggling with.

"Our goal in all of this was to find healing through service," Mandall said. "What better way to leave a legacy through somebody, right, then to do something to help others."

About the Author: