Grieving residents in Gabby Petito’s Long Island hometown lit up their community Friday amid a somber vigil for the young woman.
Called “Light the Night for Gabby Petito,” the event in Blue Point and surrounding communities honored the life of the 22-year-old, whose body was discovered and later identified in Grand Teton National Park on Tuesday, the New York Post reported.
— New York Post (@nypost) September 25, 2021
The outlet continued:
Hundreds of neighbors took to the end of their driveways at dusk for the town-wide vigil and solemnly lit lanterns, which could be purchased the day prior at the Blue Point Nature Preserve for a $20 donation to the Petito family. Others paid their respects to Petito with candles and lights of their own.
Groups of neighbors walked together around Petito’s old neighborhood in a silent procession, remembering the 2017 Bayport-Blue Point High School graduate. The grieving community decorated thousands of trees with blue ribbons early in the week in anticipation of the ceremony.
The color blue was used because it reminded Petito’s mother, Nichole Schmidt, “of the color of Gabby’s eyes,” organizer Jennifer McNamara, with the Johnny Mac Foundation, explained.
ABC 7 shared video footage showing paper lanterns lining the streets:
“We’re here to do anything for them, you know, so it just feels good to do something,” one neighbor said.
The body found Sunday near a Wyoming national park belonged to Petito, the young woman who disappeared amid a cross-country journey with her boyfriend last month, the Teton County Coroner confirmed Tuesday.
“Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue said the initial determination of Petito’s body is that her death was a homicide. Final autopsy results have not yet been released,” Breitbart News reported.
Her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, was previously named a person of interest in the case.
Petito had been living with Laundrie and his parents in North Port, Florida, when they embarked on the trip. However, authorities said she was not with Laundrie when he returned to Florida on September 1.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) issued an arrest warrant for Laundrie for alleged fraudulent use of a debit card shortly after she died.
“Brian Laundrie has been missing since last week when he reportedly went for a hike in the Mabry Carlton Jr. Memorial Reserve near his home in North Port, Florida,” according to Breitbart News.
Meanwhile, the memorial visitation for Petito scheduled for Sunday will be open to the public.
Memorial visitation for Gabby Petito will be happening on Sunday from 12-5 at Moloney's Holbrook Funeral Home.
825 Main St, Holbrook, NY 11741.
It will be open to the public.
— Brian Entin (@BrianEntin) September 24, 2021
According to the Post, a memorial was planned for Saturday in North Port, where neighbors will release butterflies and light candles in remembrance of Petito. The event at North Port City Hall was scheduled for 7:15 p.m.