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'Lean on one another:' mourners embrace and cry at vigils for victims of Highland Park July 4th parade massacre

Mourners embrace and cry at vigil for victims of Highland Park July 4th parade massacre
Mourners embrace and cry at vigil for victims of Highland Park July 4th parade massacre 02:42

HIGHWOOD, Ill. (CBS) -- Many hugged, cried, and carried candles Wednesday night to remember the seven men and women who lost their lives in the massacre at the July 4th parade in Highland Park.

There were three vigils Wednesday night. CBS 2's Marissa Perlman visited a vigil in neighboring Highwood.

When the unthinkable happens, neighbors told Perlman they don't know what to do – other than be together.

The grieving process started with a little bagpipe music and memories, and a message – "Highland Park Strong." Mourners drew that message in blue chalk on the ground.

"To grieve together is very cathartic," said Michael Goldstein of Highland Park.

Neighbors came to be together and embrace in Everts Park in Highwood, during a time when they never thought such a horror could happen.

"This just seems so surreal to us – and how could this happen here?" a Goldstein said.

But the unspeakable did happen. And now, thousands of ribbons send a message to the hurt, the grieving, and those who died.

"I wrote, 'Strength to stop the gun insanity,'" Highland Park High School teacher Barb Harvey said as she displayed her ribbon.

Harvey spent 15 years as a teacher at Highland Park High School.

"My heart is broken for this wonderful community," Harvey said. "It has to end. We have to do something."

Some came to the vigil to share their stories – including those who might normally have been at the parade.

"This is the first time I've missed the parade in 14 years," Goldstein said.

Others who spoke were there, but survived. Sara Robles was walking in the parade with both of her daughters.

"I just hear a lot of people running and screaming, and people are crying," she said.

Days later, the fear is still there.

"I just grabbed my daughters and said, 'Go, run go,'" Robles said. "Now I'm feeling afraid for my daughters."

Robles' 10-year-old daughter, Yamileth, has not been sleeping at night.

"When that happened, I just felt really scared," Yamileth said. "I felt that my whole family was in danger."

Yamileth said she is forever changed - after a day that was supposed to be about celebration.

"It was really hard for us, and you know, because after like two years without nothing because of COVID – the pandemic – we were so excited that this was going to happen – but it ended up in a terrible way," Yamileth said.

This is a community with no guidance on how to move forward.

Neighbors said they'll try to do so by following some words spoken at the vigil: "Squeeze your children. Hug your neighbors. Hug your friends, and lean on one another."

There are support services being offered in Highland Park, as well as in Highwood. Counseling is available at Highland Park High School, 433 Vine Ave., and at the public library in Highwood, 102 Highwood Ave.

The high school is also were you can go if you left belongings on the parade route. That space is expected to be open at least through the rest of the week.

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