First funeral held for young Oklahoma tornado victim

Antonia Candelaria, 9 Personal Photo/Facebook

OKLAHOMA CITY Friends and family are attended the funeral services for a 9-year-old girl killed by Monday's tornado in an Oklahoma City suburb.

Thursday's funeral for Antonia Candelaria was the first since the storm that killed 24 people. Ten of the victims were children.

Relatives and friends huddling under umbrellas amid a downpour hurried into a chapel where mournful country songs played. The front of the chapel was filled with photos of a smiling Antonia.

Candelaria was one of seven children who perished when the tornado flattened an elementary school in the city of Moore, including her best friend and next door neighbor, 9-year-old Emily Conatzer.

A family photo released by her mother shows the girl beaming with a big smile and wearing a white sun hat.

Relatives said Anonia loved to sing. She knew the words to most of the songs on the country radio station her family frequently had on and she would sing along, bringing joy to the house.

In an obituary, the family remembered the "gentle and loving spirit" of a girl with a sweet nickname, "ladybug," that complimented those of her two sisters, who are affectionately called "butterfly" and "dragonfly."

"Tonie always danced, not walked, to the beat of her own drum," the family wrote in her obit. "And she banged her drum very well. She would bang that drum so loud that others could not help but to start dancing to her beat as well."

Authorities say the tornado caused $2 billion in damage and destroyed or damaged up to 13,000 homes.

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