Lehigh Valley

Friends, family, first responders remember horrors of explosion 1 year ago

Vigil marks one-year anniversary

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - Residents gathered Thursday night to remember the victims at two memorials, one at the blast site and one at a local church.

Nearly 100 people stood together Thursday night at the blast site at 13th and Allen streets.  Lifting up prayers and candles, they came out to support each other.

"When things happen we all come together, we pull together as a community and a neighborhood and we support each other," said Allentown resident Carl Brown. 

They also came to remember what happened here exactly one year ago.  Patty Voight's mom lost her home that night.

"This will be something we remember every single year," said Voight.  "I mean it changed all of our lives and we'll never forget."

A city block was leveled and five people were killed in the explosion: Bill and Bea Hall, Ofelia Ben, Katherine Cruz and Matthew Vega.  For many gathered in the dark, coming together on the anniversary of this tragedy is a way to move on.

"You gotta try to be there for your friends and neighbors and hope they can recover," explained neighbor Robert Budd.

While people mourned together at the blast site, a prayer and remembrance gathering was going on at the same time less than a mile away.  At Salem United Methodist Church on West Linden Street, folks knew Bea and Bill Hall well.  They sat in this pew every Sunday.  But the night was about everyone who was affected by this disaster.

"We honor these people, their memory and yet we need to move on and so we're coming out to do both those things," said James Anderman.

With their prayers and their singing, organizer Maritza Torres Dolich says there's a message of hope: hope for healing and hope for recovery.

"Life goes on but you don't forget --even though it feels like you are forgetting --you don't," said Torres Dolich.

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