A quiet, tearful crowd lit candles in solidarity on Stacy Boulevard Thursday night — listening again to a roll call of names of sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers, all casualties of overdoses.
As the sun went down on the outer harbor, the names of the dead rose up into the hundreds at Gloucester’s second annual Overdose Vigil — and those names spoke for themselves of an epidemic of opioid addiction that claims more than 28,000 lives a year across America.
One of dozens of vigils held statewide — and hundreds held globally in observance of International Overdose Awareness Day — Gloucester’s service, organized by groups called Gloucester Community Members Who Care and The Gloucester Overdose Vigil Committee — drew a larger pool of volunteers than last year , organizers said.
The response and outreach from the community has been incredible, said vigil organizer, Kathy Day. Musicians Sal Baglio, Marty Dunphy and Larry Sartwell sang songs of remembrance, and many in the crowd wore purple bows created by volunteers as a sign of commitment to addressing the addiction needs in the community.
“Loved ones who are remembered by others as addicts, are remembered here as the people they were,” said Day.
The event here was part of the 11th annual “International Overdose Awareness Day,” a global event intended to counter the stigma surrounding addiction and to create a healing place for survivors.
“To have a loved one demonized in death is devastating to survivors,” vigil organizer and activist Gary Langis told the Times in an earlier interview, “If we can change someone’s thinking, maybe we can save someone’s life.”