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East Hampton Village to hold Newtown memorial service

Jack Chimenti, 5, of Holbrook, is hugged tightly

Jack Chimenti, 5, of Holbrook, is hugged tightly by his mother during a candlelight vigil at Moloney Family Funeral Home in Lake Ronkonkoma Tuesday evening in memory of the lives lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School. (Dec. 18, 2012) Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

After a resident donated 26 Christmas trees to East Hampton Village on Monday as a way of expressing sympathy and support for the victims of the Newtown, Conn., shootings, residents started showing up at Hook Mill — the green park on Montauk Highway where they were placed — and began to decorate them.

Now, the village board is organizing a memorial service for Friday at 4:30 p.m., with local clergy slated to speak. Residents are being asked to come with a candle and one tree ornament as a tribute.

Kathy Byrne, the village resident who purchased the trees, said she got the idea after seeing that people in Newtown were putting up trees as memorials. “I wanted to do something for our local residents to express their grief,” she said.

Finding 26 trees this close to Christmas was a bit difficult. The first place Byrne went to — sponsored by the Kiwanis International — was sold out.

She then went to Chris Diamond, a local tree dealer, and he told her she could take any tree he had for $25. When she told him what she wanted, he sold her all 26 trees for $100.

Kiwanis International volunteers came to Hook Mill with stakes Monday to hold up the trees, and the decorating began almost immediately.

“That’s just what we wanted,” Byrne said.

Village Mayor Paul Rickenbach said the tragedy was “a painful reminder of the preciousness of life.”

Above: Downtown East Hampton Village


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