Lanterns of Remembrance Provide Gesture of Honor to COVID-19 Victims

Hundreds of candles were lit and floated upon Hartford's Bushnell Park pond to remember the lives lost to COVID-19.

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One year ago this week, the city of Hartford lost its first resident to COVID-19. Marking this sad anniversary, the community came together Saturday for a night of remembrance.

Floating atop the Bushnell Park pond, hundreds of candles burned brightly in the night. Lanterns in which Mayor Luke Bronin said provided symbolic purpose.

“To honor the loss, to celebrate the life, and come together as a community,” said Bronin, after lighting some of the candles with his family.

A year ago Thursday, Lorrain Whelan was Hartford’s first resident to die of COVID-19. On Saturday, the city remembered her and others.

“It’s a nice gesture,” said Anastasia Castle of Hartford. “We need to remember the people that died.”

Dozens of people helped light hundreds of candles. While sent adrift, many candles gathered in a way we all soon hope to do ourselves: providing light and beauty.

“I think it kind of looks pretty, seeing the lights in the water,” said Daniella Filigrana of Hartford.

Among those who participated was Lynn Levasseur of East Hartford who lost her mother to COVID-19 just after Christmas. As she and her daughter Tori lit candles, there was one somber thought.

“All these people that were by themselves and families couldn’t be with them and that’s what I was thinking of. That it is really sad,” said Levasseur.

A total of 7,865 Connecticut families have suffered this sadness. So, for those walking by the pond, seeing these glimmering points of light, Bronin had a request.

“To say a quiet prayer and to think about all those families who have lost a loved one,” he said.

What happened Saturday is just one symbolic tribute. Soon, daffodils will be popping up in 40 hope gardens that have been planted around the city as a way of remembering those lost.

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