The Bayport-Blue Point community will come together Friday night to remember Gabrielle Petito with an organized effort to place candles in front of homes.
The body of the 22-year-old, a 2017 graduate of Bayport-Blue Point High School, was found Sunday in a national forest in Wyoming, more than two weeks after her fiance, Brian Laundrie, returned alone in her white van to the North Port, Florida, home where the couple lived with his parents.
Petito's mother reported her missing Sept. 11, about two weeks after she'd last spoken with her daughter.
Laundrie, who the FBI has called "a person of interest" in the case, has since gone missing and now is being sought by law enforcement.
A notice about the remembrance, shared on a social media page by the Blue Point Fire Department, has been titled as "Shine a Light for Gabby" — and asks that community members join and support the family and friends of Petito with "a night of shining light." Organizers are seeking a $20 donation for "a luminary" — or candle — that will be lit in unison Friday at 7 p.m.
All proceeds, the announcement said, will be donated to Gabby's family.
Candles can be picked up in advance on Thursday between 2-6 p.m. at the Blue Point Nature Preserve on Maple Street.
The announcement of the candlelight remembrance comes as other public tributes continue to emerge around Petito's hometown.
Earlier this week, volunteers affixed hundreds of teal ribbons to trees and light poles around Blue Point to honor Petito. A large poster of a smiling Petito posing in front of angel wings with the words "Gabby Petito" and "forever in our hearts," was erected at an intersection on the border of Bayport and Blue Point.
Jennifer McNamara, a family friend who said Petito used to babysit her son, said she and other volunteers placed the ribbons around the hamlet with the permission of the family. "We in Blue Point are all devastated," McNamara said. "We’re heartbroken. But we will rally around this family because that’s what we do in this community."
With Cecilia Dowd