Residents in Blue Point on Long Island are mourning the loss of Gabby Petito. The town held a candlelight vigil in her honor on Friday, weeks after her disappearance in late August.
Family, friends and neighbors gathered to light hundreds of candles and celebrate Petito’s life and place in the community. Organizers named the event “Shine a light for Gabby.” The vigil took place ahead of her cremation tomorrow, public memorial on Sunday and funeral services on Monday.
During the vigil, organizers of the Blue Point vigil asked for $20 donations for the benefit of Gabby Petito’s family. The Petitos helped found the Future Gabby Petito Foundation through the Johnny Mac Foundation, which typically provides funds and support to firefighters and first responders. According to the Johnny Mac Foundation, Petito’s mother, Nicole Schmidt, is a long-time member and volunteer. The foundation stated that the donated funds “will be used for family expenses.”
Along with the voluntary funds, visitors also placed myriad of memorabilia among the candles. Photos, stuffed animals, ribbons, flowers and crosses filled the plot. Some left messages for the “van-life” adventurer. Others drew pictures and placed them on trees throughout the town.
The central location of the vigil took place around a large poster with a photo of Petito. In the past snapshot, the 22-year-old stood in front of a pair of colorful wings painted on a white brick wall. Across from the photo, the message read, “Gabby Petito, Forever in our hearts.”
See photos of the ceremony here.
Friends and Supporters of Gabby Petito Dedicate Tributes Across the Country
The vigil in Blue Point was not the only tribute to take place in Gabby Petito’s honor. Friends, family and supporters across the country mourned the loss of the 22-year-old camper with memorials of their own.
Gabby Petito’s stepfather, James Schmidt, visited the exact site where authorities found her body near a campground in Grand Teton National Park. There, he created a memorial, leaving yellow and white flowers at the site. He also formed a cross out of stones on the ground.
Previously, Schmidt traveled from his and Nicole Schmidt’s home on Long Island to Wyoming to help with the search. He left on September 14, and five days later, the search team found her remains. On Wednesday, Schmidt placed the flowers and cross at the site. Along with him was close friend Gary Rider, who commented on the experience.
Hikers spotted a similar tribute on Monday in which someone created another stone cross on the ground at the Spread Creek Dispersed Campsite at Grand Teton National Park. It is uncertain who laid this memorial. Though, Rider stated that no one close to Petito or involved in the search created it.