Surfside memorials: Mourners release lanterns in honor of 98 lost

Friday evening, an intimate gathering on the beach, near the collapse site in Surfside was organized by Michael Noriega, whose grandmother died last year.

SURFSIDE, Fla. – Friday evening, an intimate gathering on the beach, near the collapse site in Surfside was organized by Michael Noriega, whose grandmother died last year.

Hilda Noriega, 92, was remembered as someone who lived with great passion. Several dozen prayed and released lanterns into the sky to honor her and the other 97 others who perished.

”It’s a beautiful ending to a really long week,” Noriega said. “Seeing this tonight is a beautiful visual in every way, shape, and form of just how God has really blessed us through such a traumatic and terrible time.”

There was also a special Catholic mass at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, where the names of all of the victims were read and candles were lit in their honor. Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava was in attendance.

During the day, the city held a public memorial service. First Lady Jill Biden and Gov. Ron DeSantis were among the speakers. First responders traveled from as far as Israel to attend.

There was also a private memorial that involved the lighting of 98 torches at about 1:20 a.m. when the sudden partial collapse of the Champlain Towers South left a cloud of smoke and a mountain of pancaked concrete.

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Michael Noriega said he and his family are still grappling with grief. His grandmother Hilda Noriega was among the 98 who died after the Champlain Towers South collapsed in Surfside.

Graphic: Timeline of the 2021 aftermath


About the Author:

Janine Stanwood joined Local 10 News in February 2004 as an assignment editor. She is now a general assignment reporter. Before moving to South Florida from her Washington home, Janine was the senior legislative correspondent for a United States senator on Capitol Hill.