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Temple of Time burn turns darkness into light for Parkland community

Susannah Bryan, Sun Sentinel on

Published in News & Features

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. -- A baby blue bunny and one red rose. White candles and a pink teddy bear. A tiny red car and a yellow butterfly note.

Dozens of cherished treasures and trinkets went up in flames Sunday night when the Temple of Time was set ablaze in a dramatic ceremonial fire intended to transform darkness into light.

The temple, always meant to serve as a temporary place of mourning, was built to help heal a wounded community still tormented by the tragedy that unfolded at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High on Valentine's Day 2018.

An intricate work of art standing 35 feet high, the temple opened on Feb. 14, exactly one year after 17 people were killed and another 17 injured in the massacre at the Parkland school. On Sunday, the temple was lit with torches by 17 people chosen to honor the 17 who were lost.

The violence that shook the community did not break it, Coral Springs Mayor Scott Brooks said just before the lighting ceremony.

"I urge you all to let go of something that has burdened you," Brooks told the crowd of about 8,000 people. "And like the smoke from the temple, release it to the night sky."


As flames overtook the temple, a hush fell over the crowd.

"Wow," one woman said. "It is beautiful," whispered another.

For 20 minutes, flames crackled at the wooden temple. But before it could burn to the ground, the fire was extinguished due to wind conditions that sent embers flying to the west.

The man who designed the temple, California artist David Best, flew into town to watch it burn. Best named his latest work the Temple of Time because he expects it will take many, many years for the community to heal from the mass shooting.


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