Overdose vigil: A night about love, remembrance

Courtesy photoOrganizers are encouraging attendees to bring soda bottle lanterns decorated in colorful tissue paper made prior to the event to Gloucester's ninth annual overdose vigil. These lanterns, drying on a line, were made for the vigil by a local group.

On Monday, Cape Ann’s ninth annual overdose vigil will give local residents and visitors a chance to come together and remember those lost to addiction.

But the vigil is not only about the loss many of its participants have endured.

“There are many shattered families walking among us, and I feel we as a community have a responsibility to show up for them,” said organizer Kathy Day, whose own life has touched by the opioid epidemic. “The night is all about love and remembrance.”

The vigil will take place on Stacy Boulevard at the flagpole next to the Blynman, or Cut, Bridge at 7 p.m., with a rain date of Tuesday, Aug. 27.

Day will be joined at the vigil by hundreds of North Shore locals whose lives have been touched by addiction, and those who are there to show them support.

“Losing someone due to substance use can be especially isolating due to the shame or stigma involved,” Day said. “The vigil is designed to become a healing ritual, a place to be able to talk openly about your loved one, and for people to know they are not alone and that their loved ones are remembered.”

Musicians John Jerome, Allen Estes, Brian King and Renee Dupuis will play inspirational songs, and speakers will share their own stories of addiction against the backdrop of a sunset on the harbor. A candlelit reading of the names of those who have been lost to addiction will take place as the evening grows dark.

Those who would like to add a name to the list or wish to make a luminary bag in memory of their loved one should arrive at 6:30 p.m. Glow sticks and other supplies will be provided thanks to the support of community members and the Colton Buckley Foundation, named for an athletic Peabody man who died at 22 of an opioid overdose.

For the first time, organizers are encouraging attendees to bring soda bottle lanterns decorated in colorful tissue paper made prior to the vigil.

Day said the idea came from Woburn’s annual “Soul Lantern Walk,” which celebrates unity in that community and remembers lost loved ones. Those who would like to bring a soda bottle lantern to the vigil can find videos online with easy-to-follow instructions on how to make them. Some local groups have made lanterns for the vigil and lights for those that people bring will be available at the event.

Day hopes the lanterns, and the vigil itself, will help the community understand the evening’s importance for those who have been touched by addiction. 

“Our hope is that attendees leave feeling more supported,” Day said. “We also hope that over time, this ritual is no longer about how our loved ones died, but is instead about the love they feel when they are (at the vigil) and the knowledge that the people we have lost are deeply missed and always remembered.”

As always the timing of the vigil coincides with International Overdose Awareness Day which is Aug. 31. For more information, visit https://www.overdoseday.com/.

More information on the vigil is available on the Gloucester Annual Overdose Vigil Facebook page.

IF YOU GO

What: Ninth annual overdose vigil, featuring speakers, remembrances, candlelight reading of names, lighting of the luminaries, music.

When: Monday, Aug. 26, 7 to 9 p.m. (6:30 p.m. for making of luminaries). Rain date is Aug. 27.

Where: At the flag pole near the Cut Bridge, Stacy Boulevard.

Who: All welcome to attend or participate; photographs and mementos of loved ones are welcome at the Remembrance Table (they will be returned at event end.)

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