Connecticut school shooting

Teddy bear shrines for childhoods lost

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 December, 2012, 4:08am

Garfield was there. So was Dipsy from Teletubbies. But far and away, it was the teddy bears in their hundreds that outnumbered all the others.

Braving a cold drizzle, mourners trekked all day on Sunday to the entrance of Sandy Hook Elementary School to add to an ever-expanding menagerie of soft toys in memory of the 20 pupils and six educators killed in Friday's shooting spree.

"All of us feel compelled to keep coming up here," said law student Samantha Wong, 23, after she placed a little white rabbit onto the branches of one of the many Christmas trees that appeared overnight by the school driveway.

Wong said she and her friends would be giving up dozens of stuffed toys, some from her childhood, in memory of the victims of one of the worst mass shootings in US history.

Some would find their place outside the school, she said. Others would go to any one of the many makeshift shrines that have popped up all over Newtown, an affluent community of 27,500 about 90 minutes' drive from New York City.

Still more toys were being collected, Wong said, to distribute to children whose parents were wrestling with how to explain Friday's horror to boys and girls just learning how to read and write.

A six-year-old named MiaLise brought a toy to put alongside the dozen glass-enclosed candles that her family and friends were lighting as dusk fell. "Somebody gave me that bear," she said, adding that "it feels good" to contribute to the shrine.

Elsewhere in Newtown, a gift shop laid out crayons and paper for passers-by to "send a prayer to heaven." Taped to the window of a fashionable dress shop, alongside glamorous gowns, read a handwritten sign: "Love will see us through."