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'Together, we'll remember': Pulse bell ceremony honors victims 8 years after mass shooting

Lauren Brensel, Orlando Sentinel on

Published in News & Features

ORLANDO, Fla. — Eight years to the day since the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer gathered for the solemn bell-ringing ceremony that is an annual tradition.

About 80 people attended Wednesday afternoon’s gathering at First United Methodist Church of Orlando.

During the ceremony, select family members read each victim’s name echoed by a soft bell that rang 49 times — once to honor each person killed June 12, 2016, when a lone gunman entered the LGBTQ club on Latin night. In addition to those slain, 53 were injured.

Speakers included Luis Martinez of the city’s office of multicultural affairs and Tatiana Quiroga, executive director of the organization, Come Out with Pride Orlando, which hosts the city’s annual Pride festival.

“By reading the names — listening to the bells, together we’ll remember,” Quiroga said.

The bell ceremony preceded an evening remembrance event at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

After the ceremony, Dyer told a small group of journalists that he understands the public is wary of the Pulse memorial process because of how it was handled in the past.

“There’s a lot of distrust that is coming out because of the failure of the onePulse Foundation,” he said.

On Friday, Dyer called for applicants for an advisory board that will oversee plans for a memorial — a project the city now shoulders after the onePulse Foundation originally responsible dissolved in December.

 

On Saturday, the eighth annual CommUNITY Rainbow Run drew thousands to City Hall Plaza. Profits from the 4.9k run to the Pulse site and back will go toward developing the memorial.

Dyer said Wednesday the advisory board will include 10 to 15 victims, family members, first responders and landscape professionals. Though there isn’t a timeline in place for the memorial, Dyer said that the city will work as transparently as possible.

“The timeline in the initial part is when we can get it done and do it in a manner that everybody feels like they’re included,” he said.

onePulse was partially founded in 2016 by the nightclub’s owner, Barbara Poma. For years, Poma promised a Pulse museum, but with minimal funding and extreme criticism from the community, she stepped down as executive director then left the organization altogether last year.

Now under the city’s care, Dyer said he expects to finish the project by December 2027.

The only confirmed detail about the memorial is it will be at the site of the Pulse nightclub.

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©2024 Orlando Sentinel. Visit orlandosentinel.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

 

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