New Mexicans honor shooting victims with balloon glow

Posted at: 12/21/2012 9:07 PM
Updated at: 12/21/2012 10:11 PM
By: Jill Galus, KOB Eyewitness News 4

It was a little reminiscent of Balloon Fiesta with a field full of hot air balloons illuminating the sky Friday evening. This time around, however, it was a celebration of life - each balloon glowing in honor of the Sandy Hook Elementary victims and their families.

Dozens of balloonists gathered at Balloon Fiesta Park, where they held a special dedication glow in honor the victims and their families.

On the chilly winter day, balloonists unpacked and set up, to warm the hearts of those who came together to mourn the loss of 26 innocent lives taken in a senseless killing.

Slade Bogle organized the special dedication glow.

"The thought of something like that happening to one of my kids and knowing that I'd never be able to hold 'em or kiss em again is just, I couldn't deal with that and I don't know how they are up there, so hopefully at least if only for a few minutes, this will give 'em something to smile about," Bogle said.

One by one, the names of each of the victims were read, and small balloons released in their honor.

As night fell, the sky lit up and pilots proudly displayed banners with the victim's names.

"It's something you think about every day, you just, everywhere you go you see something, you hear something about it, and it's amazing that it takes something so tragic to open and inspire people to do something good, and I'm glad we're able to be a part of something good," Bentley Streett, a balloon pilot, said.

People watched, prayed and honored those who they will never get a chance to meet but will always remember, while thinking of their own children.

"I just like, I can't - that's my whole world, he's everything, so it's hard," one mother said of her son.

"I have a little 6-year-old myself and I wouldn't know what to do if I didn't have him," another parent said.

"My wife is a school teacher also, so it really hit home there," another man said, while holding his 19-month-old son close in his arms.

Between 40 and 50 balloonists took part in the event.  

Donations were also collected and will be sent back east to help support the victim's families.

"I'm overwhelmed as a mayor, I'll be honest with you, it's just great to see our community coming together and we hope the message gets to Connecticut," Mayor Richard Berry said.