NEWTOWN -- A line of officers on horseback joined the motorcade for the funeral of 6-year-old Jesse Lewis, a "little cowboy" who loved horses and was known by family friends for his smiling face and cheery demeanor.
"There shouldn't be a reason for a coffin that small," family friend Amanda Caroll said, as she shivered and sobbed outside Honan Funeral Home early Thursday, during the boy's wake. "It's really, just, horrible."
Caroll and her friend, Erinn Keaney, were among more than 500 people who gathered for the wake, which marked the beginning of a procession of six services Thursday for the victims of last week's shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Clad in green and white -- Sandy Hook's school colors -- Caroll and Keaney said Jesse loved to play with the fake horses at their Western-themed sports bar and restaurant, the Coyote Maverick
"If you just go to a normal funeral ... this is worse," Caroll said, noting that there were toys inside the funeral home. "Everything is smaller, and you just can't even imagine."
But there is an outpouring of support in the tight-knit town, which may be helping families like Jesse's cope, Caroll said. Makeshift memorials line Newtown's Main Street, and flowers, toys and other offerings are piled over benches in front of Edmond Town Hall.
"It's amazing, the fact that everyone's together right now," Caroll said. "You could not find more support."
Thomas Skrelja, 13, who goes to school with Jesse's big brother JT, said Jesse was JT's best cheerleader, always eager to watch him play soccer with other kids from school.
"They all play together. It's a family affair," said Thomas' father, Frank Skrelja. "Jesse was part of the family."