Needham Teen Organizes Candlelight Vigil for Newtown

An estimated more than 125 people attended a candlelight vigil to remember the victims of Newtown, CT held in Needham on Monday.


On a cold, wet night, a large group of people stands out on a field holding vigil by candlelight, illuminating a small patch of grass around them. It is a gesture of support, and a literal way to bring light into some darkness.

Needham 16-year-old Jackie Arrondo planned one such Vigil for Newtown over the weekend. On Monday, a group of over 100 headed to Memorial Field for the vigil. 

"These people needed to see there was support out there for them, in this tragedy that they were going through. So I took the initiative to go out and do something." Arrondo explained, "I didn't want to stand back and be like 'these people are upset and they're going through a hard time. Let them do it alone.' You should have people to support you no matter what it is."

The Junior at Needham High School said she first heard about the shooting, in which an armed gunman took 26 lives and his own last Friday, while in a leadership class with school vice principal Jonathan Bourn.

"I heard about it," Arrondo told Patch "and the first thing I thought about was my brothers. That kind of hit close to home, like if something ever happened to my brothers, I don't know what I would do. "

A group on Facebook to which Arrondo belongs wanted to do something. She says she floated the idea to them, and put things into action on Saturday morning.

"The way I was brought up, that's how I am. If you see something that needs to be improved, you go out and do that," Arrondo said.

After contacting the Memorial Field trustees and the police department to secure permission for the vigil, Arrondo reached out to friends and family to spread the word. She also says she spoke with Dunkin Donuts and Sudbury Farm to organize food at the event.

Candles were another issue, which several area stores had run out of when she looked on Sunday. After speaking with Father David Michael, a pastor at St. Joseph's Parish, she was able to get about 110 candles leftover from the Easter vigil. 

On Monday night, they ran out of candles, and still had visitors asking for more.

Arrondo spoke, as did Father Michael and a retired reverend, Gordon Swan. Arrondo then stood and read a list of victims' names, and the group listened to "Amazing Grace" in silence.

"Even that little, it's not a huge thing." She added, "I see Newtown as a town like Needham, a close-knit community. Everyone knows everyone, that kind of thing. Us showing support for them, it can really make it more heartfelt."

Were you at the vigil? Did you take pictures (difficult, given the rain)? Upload them here.

Valerie Goldstein December 21, 2012 at 01:18 PM
Thanks so much to Jackie Orrondo, the clergy, and everyone else who helped make Monday night's vigil possible. It is amazing that you managed to pull together such a meaningful, well-organized event in so little time. The candlelight vigil not only was a beautiful tribute to the people of Newtown, but provided an outlet for all of us who felt helpless after this tragedy. The support and togetherness of that night were truly what this season is about.
Valerie Goldstein December 21, 2012 at 02:16 PM
That should say Arrondo. Sorry, Jackie!


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