Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Tears at 911 for slain tots

Snowflakes sent to MTS service

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Fiona Corcoran was one of about a dozen 911 operators on duty when scenes from the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre started to appear on TVs that are kept in the room with the sound off.

The operators sat looking up at the screens with their headsets on. It's already an emotionally charged atmosphere inside the 911 call centre and the scenes of the breaking-news story proved too much for the operators. Some started to cry. They had to eventually change the channel, Corcoran said.

But she held on to that emotion and organized police families to contribute to a Snowflakes for Newtown campaign to show support for the victims and families.

At a memorial service for the Newtown, Conn., victims at the MTS Centre on Saturday, about 200 multicoloured cut-out snowflakes made by the children of police officers adorned the skirt of the stage and podiums on stage.

"This devastating tragedy impacted people around the world," said Richard Wojcik of Wojcik's Funeral Chapel, which hosted the memorial.

The MTS Centre was turned into a memorial shrine to the victims. Numbers, attached to victim's names, scrolled continuously on the LED power ring that circles the arena's upper deck: 6, 6, 6, 7, 6, 6... the ages of the children killed. Twenty children were gunned down, and six adults.

Teddy bears festooned the stage. Christmas trees made up the stage backdrop. The Jumbotron carried a collage of victim photos with names and ages.

About 50 people attended the Saturday-morning service at a time when many Manitobans were shovelling themselves out from the overnight blizzard.

The Winnipeg Police Pipe Band performed, and soloist Andriana Chuchman sang.

The National Parent Teacher Association, which co-ordinated the Snowflakes for Newtown campaign, asked people to stop sending their snowflakes, because they were inundated, Corcoran said. So she donated them for use at the memorial service.

bill.redekop@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 13, 2013 A5

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