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Hundreds of Naugatuck Residents Remember Newtown Victims

Vigil held on Town Green Tuesday night paid tribute to Naugatuck native and Sandy Hook Principal Dawn Hochsprung as well as the 25 other victims killed in the school.

 

Several hundred people stood shoulder-to-shoulder, trying to keep candles lit in the rain, Tuesday night on the Naugatuck Town Green to honor the victims of Friday's mass shooting at a Newtown elementary school.

Six large candles and 20 small ones sat on a table in front of a podium inside a gazeb to honor the 20 children and six adults who died. Speakers took to that podium to describe the heroic actions of Naugatuck native Dawn (Lafferty) Hochpsrung, principal at Sandy Hook Elementary School. She reportedly lost her life while lunging at the gunman in an attempt to stop him after telling other staff members to hide in her office.

Hochprung, 47, a 1983 graduate of Naugatuck High School, was recalled fondly by her former track coach Ron Aliceini. She was thanked for her bravery and loving nature by her longtime friend, Kevin DelGobbo. She was honored for her bravery by Mayor Bob Mezzo (Read his remarks attached to this article as a PDF). And she was memorialized by this reporter, her friend, Paul Singley. I thanked her for setting me up with my wife, her former co-worker, Kathleen (Kuhla) Singley and shared fond memories and stories about Hochsprung. 

The service was led by the Rev. Gordon Rankin, senior pastor at the Congregational Church of Naugatuck, who also summarized Hochsprung's bravery in the face of unspeakable horror and prayed for all of the victims. Following the speeches, Grace Jimenez sang beautifully for the crowd. 

After the ceremony, several Naugatuck residents took to social media to describe the evening. Some of them include, from Facebook posts: 

From State Rep. Rosa Rebimbas:

"We remember heroically the adults who protected their students at the sacrifice of their own lives. The little children who were so big in the ways that they have touched us, and inspired us, with their hopes and dreams for the future.

"In this difficult time, we must now support and give strength to their family members, all of the teachers, school administrators, and first responders.

"In their honor, we must continue to live and never forget what happened, but always remember to love one another and help one another each and every day."

From Ed Carter, Aide to Mayor Bob Mezzo:

"I would like to thank everyone who turned out this evening for our vigil. The Congregational Church handed out over 600 candles, many left stuffed animals and the Naugatuck High Art Department put together a beautiful Angel full of messages from our students to those in Newtown. I would like to say thank you to the media who respected our boundries. I understand they have a job to do and were veryfair to work with. To Dawn's family I hope we were able to provide you with some comfort. I know speaking with you over the past several days it has been difficult to get through each day. I am glad you wanted to be a part of our vigil and I am so glad you welcomed me into your lives. Rev. Rankin once again thank you and your volunteers for being there for our community. Lastly Jason Robert Brown composed a song called "Twenty Six Names" when I contacted him to ask if he could provide the song to us to use when lighting the candles he quickly responded and sent us the song.

"We will heal and we will remember the children and the educators. Heaven was with us tonight and we were with them."

From Tamath K. Rossi, Naugatuck's Deputy Mayor 

"A remembrance tonight beyond descriptive words. There was comfort in the light rainy dark lit with more candles than one could count. While the air was heavy with sadness, Naugatuck came together as only this community can. Beautiful words were said, memories shared and sentiments expressed. The most profound moment was definitely when that incredible voice sang Amazing Grace and one by one everyone joined and followed it up with Silent Night. Incredible and beyond description. An evening and tribute I will never forget and hope that my beloved community will never have to endure again. May God Bless Dawn and all of the Sandy Hook victims and their families." 

Editor's Note: Feel free to share your thoughts about the vigil, your memories of Dawn (Lafferty) Hochsprung, your tributes to Sandy Hook victims, in our comments field below. And add photos if you have them. 

Thank you to all who came out last night. It was a showing of Naugatuck at its best. 

george straz December 19, 2012 at 12:01 PM
A very special gathering. Naugatuck at its' best, inspired by one of its' best.
Harry December 19, 2012 at 12:18 PM
It was a beautiful tribute to Dawn and the other victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy. Thank you to those who put it together and to those who offered their thoughts. We were blessed to have been able to count Dawn as one of our own and need to keep her memory in our thoughts as we go forward and do whatever we can to try and prevent horrors like this from happening again. Each of us has to look inward and think about what we can do better and then we must do better. We owe it to our families and to our friends and we owe it to Dawn.
Maryellen Royka December 19, 2012 at 12:31 PM
It was a beautiful night! Everyone came together to show their support. I also want to thank the We Care group at City Hill Middle School who made green ribbon pins and were passing them out last night. Their teacher, Miss Adams should also be commended for pulling in a special group of children and sharing the love and care for others! I know as a parent of one of her students, and the daughter of a former Naugatuck teacher, I am so grateful for every teacher in this town!!
Paul Singley December 19, 2012 at 01:17 PM
Well said, Maryellen. Thanks. Nice job, City Hill and others who helped.
Fr December 19, 2012 at 02:20 PM
It was indeed very moving and once again showed how much Naugatuck cares and how we are ready to show our caring. Even when the rain became more steady, I did not see one person leave...and many people had no hats or umbrellas. The memorial speeches were all very good...especially Mayor Mezzo's. He said what a lot of us were thinking and he presented his words in a heartfelt manner that I could truly feel. To the victims: "Sleep in heavenly peace".
mr wood December 19, 2012 at 03:20 PM
We needed better pictures other than that great job naugy !! may god bless all the victims and there families.
carol debernardis December 19, 2012 at 05:35 PM
The Memorial was beautiful and heartfelt, most of us are still in shock and alone with our thoughts. Last night brought Naugatuck together, side by side we stood to honor those 20 angels and 6 brave educator's, one thought, one heartbreak, one love. Thank you Naugatuck for allowing us to become ONE. I would also like to thank the Naugatuck Poilce for their presence at the schools, I know as a Grandmother it gave me peace of mind sending my 6 year old grandson to Maple Hill School these past few days. Peace and strength to all the families in Newtown.
Paul Singley December 19, 2012 at 05:36 PM
I agree the mayor's remarks were poignant, and therefore, I've asked him for a copy of his speech, which I've attached to this article as a PDF. Thanks.
citizen December 19, 2012 at 09:01 PM
This is the Naugatuck I am proud of. It was a nice event. The mayor's speech was perfect and heartfelt.
Naugy Alum 88 December 19, 2012 at 09:22 PM
I would like to see some type of memorial plaque be placed at the new renovated high school in honor of Dawn (Lafferty) Hochpsrung. She should go down as one of Naugatuck's greatest heroes. She deserves a purple heart for her act of bravery and heroism. Future generations of kids need to hear of her heroic deed and neber forget her selflessness.
Grumpy Guy December 20, 2012 at 02:02 AM
It was a terrific presentation to honor Dawn and the other victims of the tragedy. It was refreshing to see the town come together for one of our own.
Watts December 20, 2012 at 07:59 AM
As a classmate of Dawn's in the class of 83 in Naugy high, I could not agree more. There should be some permanent recognition of here there.
Eric December 21, 2012 at 04:36 PM
It is time for all of the news organizations to pack up and leave. I am getting tired of the constant presence and the music intros to the "breaking" stories. Let people at least attempt to get their lives back in order without turning a corner and seeing a camera crew in their face!

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