January 1, 2014
Vol: 21 No: 1

Feature

Silent night

Fifty-eight candles were lit on Dec. 21, the shortest day of the year, around The Tree of Life sculpture at Victor Steinbrueck Park, to honor homeless people who passed in 2013.

Photo by: Wes Sauer , Contributing Photographer

A man in a Santa costume passes by a vigil to honor the 58 homeless people who died in 2013. Activist Dorli Rainey holds one of the 58 candles lit during the vigil.

Photo by: Wes Sauer , Contributing Photographer

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Some died by suicide, others overdosed. One froze to death.

The 58 homeless people who died outside or by violence in King County last year were remembered in a ceremony on Dec. 21.

About 40 people gathered first at Victor Steinbrueck Park, where they lit a candle for each person who died, then walked to Westlake Center, where they stood in silence for one hour, said Marcia McLaughlin, a volunteer with the Women’s Housing Equality and Enhancement League (WHEEL), which organized the ceremony.

Sinan Demirel has attended the vigil, which is held annually, more than 10 times.

“People walk by thinking, ‘Why are they standing there?’” he said. “The motivation is to recognize and honor people who might not have been recognized.”

According to McLaughlin, the ceremony was held on the longest night partly because it’s a bad time to be homeless, and partly to reach holiday shoppers with the message: “Without shelter, people die.”

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