ORLANDO, Fla. – Saturday marks five years since the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub on June 12, 2016 and there are many ways to honor the 49 victims killed throughout the weekend and the month of June.
The violence forever changed the Orlando community but also made us stronger, requiring tough conversations about gun violence and discrimination against LGBTQ+ and minority communities. Those conversations continue but especially on Orlando United Day, which is June 12 of every year. Last year due to the coronavirus pandemic all events were virtual but in 2021, most in-person memorial events will go on as planned.
In the 49 days leading up to June 12, the community was encouraged to participate in the Acts of Love and Kindness movement and it’s still not too late.
Below are a few ways to honor the 49 angels on Orlando United Day and beyond.
OneBlood is hosting a blood drive in honor of the victims, offering a special Orlando Strong T-shirt and a gift card for donors. Donors flooded to blood banks around Central Florida after the tragedy in order to provide help to surviving victims, many of whom required multiple blood transfusions.
Here is a full list of locations where you can donate.
Noon - 49 Bells ceremony
At noon Saturday, the churches in Orlando will ring their bells 49 times marking each life taken during the shooting. The churches in the downtown area, including First Presbyterian and First United Methodist Church of Orlando, near the Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts, all toll their bells, making it a powerful moment honoring the victims.
2 p.m. Remembrance walk and event at The Abbey in DeLand
The DeLand Pride will host a gathering at The Abbey bar beginning at 2 p.m. then walk to the corner of New York Avenue and Woodland Boulevard to read the names of the 49 angels. Participants are encouraged to bring signs and flags to show their support.
5 p.m. Panel discussion and moment of silence
The Coalition for Pulse will host a national panel discussion at 5 p.m. Saturday that will end with a 49-second moment of silence at 6 p.m.
7 p.m. OnePulse Foundation Remembrance ceremony
The final event during the five-year Remembrance Week will happen at the Pulse Interim Memorial, which is the site of the former nightclub. The ceremony at the memorial is by invitation only for Pulse families, survivors, first responders and ceremony participants but the full ceremony will be broadcast on ClickOrlando.com and News 6 during a special broadcast at 7 p.m.
For another in-person option, the event will be played live at the Dr. Phillips Center’s Frontyard Festival on the front lawn. Tickets are free and can be reserved here. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the event starts at 7 p.m.
The front lawn of the Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts became a temporary memorial after the shooting in 2016 where mourners laid flowers and left notes for the victims. Former President Barack Obama and then Vice President Joe Biden also visited DPAC, leaving a wreath of white roses.
Now through Aug. 15: Pulse exhibit at Orange County Regional History Center
For the first time since the pandemic began, the Orange County Regional History Center opened an exhibit to honor and remember the lives lost during the Pulse nightclub shooting and the community response that followed the tragedy.
The exhibit is called “Community: Five Years After the Pulse Tragedy.” It features tributes left at memorial sites, as well as focuses on how Orlando and the world came together following the shooting.
To see the full list of remembrance week events, click or tap here.