ORLANDO, Fla. – Hundreds logged on Friday night to pay their respects to the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting, which happened exactly four years ago.
While many gathered at the site of the shooting, which is now an interim memorial, more than 500 others attended a memorial on YouTube held by the OnePulse Foundation.
“While our preference would have been to be with our Pulse family and the community today in person at the Pulse Interim Memorial, that is simply not possible because of the current COVID spread and our social distancing guidelines,” OnePulse Board Chairman Earl Crittenden said.
The ceremony included comments from Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, Broadway star and Orlando native Norm Lewis and Pulse nightclub owner Barbara Poma.
"People come to the memorial to reflect and grieve, pay the respects and learn," Poma said. "They want to know what happened here, and they should."
The online ceremony included family members who lost loved ones reading the names of the 49 lives lost.
An hour later, St. Luke’s Methodist Church also held an online vigil for the Pulse nightclub victims.
At Pulse, many who survived the shooting gathered to comfort each other.
"Peace, love, and love always wins," said India Godman, who escaped the gunman with her son.
Godman said the pandemic has actually brought her friends from the tragedy closer together, at least emotionally.
“A remembrance is always a memory,” she said. “It’s what you take from it and move forward. For the past three years, that’s what we’ve been doing.”
Each year, storms have produced rainbows in the sky during or immediately after the remembrance ceremonies.
This year, the skies were clear.
Crittenden urged everyone to be the rainbow this year and shine bright.