Heartbroken residents of Gabby Petito’s hometown on Long Island lit up their tiny waterfront community on Friday night in a dark vigil.
Dubbed “Light the Night For Gabby Petito,” the ceremony at Blue Point and neighboring communities paid tribute to the life of the 22-year-old, whose body was found and identified in Grand Teton National Park on Tuesday. before being sent back to Long Island.
Hundreds of neighbors came to the end of their alleys at dusk for the townwide vigil and solemnly lit lanterns, which could be purchased the day before at the Blue Point Nature Reserve for a $ 20 donation to the Petito family.
Others paid homage to Petito with their own candles and lights.
Groups of neighbors marched together through the old quarter of Petito in a silent procession, remembering the 2017 graduate of Bayport-Blue Point High School.
The grieving community decorated thousands of trees with blue ribbons earlier this week in preparation for the ceremony. Blue was chosen because it reminds Petito’s mother Nichole Schmidt of “Gabby’s eye color,” organizer Jennifer McNamara of the Johnny Mac Foundation told The Post.
“It is beyond the incredible. It’s fair in life – Gabby was a shining star. And now in her death she is the brightest star, ”Noreen Gibbons, who said she considered herself Gabby’s second grandmother, told News 12 Long Island Friday.
Jennifer Horton, of Blue Point, joined in paying tribute to the tragically lost community member by putting on lights at the end of his ride, News 12 reported.
“When the community loses one, we all do it,” said Horton. “So just remember the beautiful life she had.” Losing her so young and just to really celebrate her life.
A billboard was also installed on Nicolls Road and Montauk Highway near the Petito family home.
A memorial is slated for Saturday in North Port, Florida where friends will drop butterflies and light candles to honor Petito. The event in front of North Port Town Hall will begin at 7:15 p.m.
A public service at the Moloney funeral home in Holbrook is scheduled for Sunday from noon to 5 p.m., Petito’s father Joseph Petito confirmed Friday.
Gabby Petito was reported missing by her family on September 11 after taking a multi-week van trip with boyfriend Brian Laundrie, who returned to North Port alone on September 1.
Petito was last seen alive at a restaurant in Wyoming on August 27, and her mother received her last text from her phone on August 30.
His body was found in a remote section of a Wyoming national forest and his death was declared a homicide by the Teton County Coroner’s Office.
Laundrie was reported missing by his parents on September 17 after leaving for a supposed hike in the Carlton Preserve, a 25,000-acre nature preserve in Sarasota County, on September 14. He was indicted by the FBI on Friday in connection with The Death of Petito as authorities continue to search the South Florida swamps for him.