Fairfield shares Newtown's sorrow: Clutching candles ... and children's hands
But that wasn't what compelled them to come out despite the cold, drizzly night.
They came, they said, to grieve, to remember and to celebrate the lives of the 20 children and six adults gunned down at the school.
They came clutching candles and their children's hands.
"We just came to show our support to Newtown," said Casey Brennan. "My mother's a teacher, my sister works in a school in Fairfield. We just want to come together as a community."
Brennan was in the large crowd at the downtown green for a community vigil organized by town officials -- at least the third locally since the Friday shootings provoked shock and sorrow around the world. The program, centered around the green's gazebo, featured prayers, songs and words of comfort from area clergy and officials.
"I know this has been a difficult time for all of us," First Selectman Michael Tetreau said. "This is a time when we look to something more than we have in ourselves."
The Rev. Charles Allen, who serves as the chaplain for Fairfield's police and fire departments, said many may feel anger over the slaughter of first-graders and educators in Newtown. "Help us to take that anger and turn it into action," he said.
The tragedy that unfolded Friday morning, Probate Judge Daniel Caruso said, served as a "graphic reminder of man's inhumanity to man," and also how fleeting and precious life is.
Shaughn Crowe, a Boston native and student at Fairfield University, said he was studying for finals and unable to make it to the Mass held for victims on campus today. Instead, he headed over to the green as night fell. "I thought I'd take a break from studying to pay my respects and say a few prayers," Crowe said.
While it may seem hard to understand or believe right now, the Rev. David Spollett, pastor at First Church Congregational, said that life is good, and "darkness will not prevail." We must, he said, have the "courage to take the action needed to protect our children and citizens."
At the vigil's end, as Tetreau, and Selectmen Cristin McCarthy Vahey and Kevin Kiley read the names of those who lost their lives in Sandy Hook, luminaries marked with the name of each victim were lit.
People paused in front of the makeshift memorial, some wiping away tears, others leaving their candles behind to add to the flickering light.
"It helped," said Jan Marshall, as she left the green. "I feel comforted."