Excerpted from the New York Times
A Neighborhood Park Draws Littleton Pilgrims
By James Brooke
The television trucks and trailers rolled out of town at the first report of tornadoes in Oklahoma. But even without the encouragement of television coverage, people keep coming in a steady stream to visit the vast impromptu memorial created for the victims of the Columbine High School shooting. Andrea Lund was one of them.
Although she did not know anyone hurt or killed in the mayhem at Columbine High School two weeks ago, she felt compelled to join the quiet pilgrimage today, her 4-year-old son, Daniel, in tow.
"This is so sad -- everywhere you turn, you think of the kids," Ms. Lund said after walking pensively among the flowers, the placards and the teddy bears. "Suburban America is so vulnerable."
The memorial is nestled in Clement Park -- on Rebel Hill, so called because of the nickname of Columbine High, which it overlooks. Constantly replenished by new bouquets, the shrines have withstood two blizzards and torrential downpours...
But today, even as the visitors continued to arrive, park administrators began removing mementos and uprooting 13 crosses -- one for each of the victims of the two young Columbine gunmen -- in a campaign to reclaim Rebel Hill, which had begun turning into a muddy mound.
"We had people slipping and falling in the mud, and one lady with heart problems had a medical emergency while trying to climb the hill," Bob Easton, executive director of the local parks agency, said... "We anticipate this will last all summer long."
...volunteers have begun to thin the wave upon wave of offerings: wilted flowers will be used in compost, and fresh flowers will be made into bags of potpourri. Initially the bags will be given to families of the victims. Later they will be sold to raise money for a permanent park memorial to 12 students and 1 teacher shot to death...
Volunteers organized by the Colorado Historical Society have started collecting and cataloguing truckloads of mementos at the park: homemade art work, handwritten poems wrapped in plastic, teddy bears, team shirts, votive candles and wind chimes.
"Everybody -- businessmen, schoolchildren, families -- people from all walks of life have been moved to come here and leave something," said Duncan McCollum, the Jefferson County Archivist...
Copyright 1999 The New York Times Company
The New York Times
May 6, 1999