An estimated 2,000 people attended a “light the way home” lantern vigil in Long Beach at nightfall Tuesday at Kennedy Plaza, marking the one-year anniversary of when Hurricane Sandy slammed the city and remembering the many residents still displaced from the storm.
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Spearheaded by Project 11561, a Long Beach-based organization established after Hurricane Sandy to help the city rebuild, the ceremony was lead by City Council President Scott Mandel, who spoke about the resilience of Long Beach residents in the wake of the storm, and City Manager Jack Schnirman talked about how the plaza, located at the front of City Hall, served as a hub of operations after the storm caused an estimated $200 million in damages to city property, including the water and sewer systems and the 2.2-mile boardwalk, and substantially damaged hundreds of residential homes in town.
After these and other brief speeches, many of those in attendance placed the lit lanterns that were handed out in the fountain pool at the center of the plaza. Then many lined up and walked south along National Boulevard, to take the ceremony to the beach and new boardwalk, which was rebuilt after sustaining heavy damages during Sandy.
Residents were asked to take the lanterns home following the ceremony and place them in their windows as a sign of community unity and to “light the way home” for neighbors who remain displaced."Tonight was extraordinary,” said Scott Mandel, according to a post about the event on the the city’s Facebook page. “Thank you to the more than 2,000 people who participated. We indeed showed that one year later, after all we've been through, we are, and will remain, one community standing together until we all come home."