AURORA | The mountain of teddy bears, flowers, candles, signs and twelve crosses that were placed at the corner of South Sable Boulevard and East Centrepoint Drive in the wake of the July 20 theater massacre were removed two months after the shooting.
After having received input from the victims’ families, a team of about 30 city staff and volunteers boxed and labeled all of the items at the makeshift memorial Wednesday night and Thursday morning. The items will be stored at a warehouse that city officials aren’t publicizing, and family members of victims will have access to them at their convenience.
“At this point the plan is just to store it so we can have it to tell the story in the future, and identify the sentiments, messages and love that was left here at the memorial,” said Jennifer Kuehner, executive director of the Aurora History Museum.
The items will be inventoried, categorized and stored. The items were placed in more than 160 boxes, and there were an estimated 300 candles left at the site, said Kuehner in the midst of removing the items.
The victims’ families were notified about two weeks ago that the items would be removed. The media was notified late Sept. 19 about the removal but was not invited.
“In consideration for the victims, we wanted to collect everything very respectfully for the victims, and we felt like we didn’t want it to become a media event,” she said.
No family members attended the removal. Instead, they had the opportunity to visit and take a few of the items over the past two weeks at their convenience, Kuehner said. Some victims’ families weren’t ready to visit the memorial, so that’s why city officials are securing the items in a warehouse to be viewed by them later.
The mood was somber as volunteers removed the items. Kuehner was overwhelmed with how many items were left for Veronica Moser, the 6-year-old girl and youngest of the 12 victims who died in the theater shooting.
“We’re all very honored to be here,” Kuehner said.
City officials posted a sign in the empty field where the memorial was, which reads “Thank you for the outpouring of love and support for the victims of the 7/20 tragedy. Always remember.”
Wreaths and flowers will be mulched and recycled for use in the city parks, according to a release sent to the media late on Sept. 19.
“On behalf of the Aurora community, many thanks to all those who visited the temporary memorial and left flowers, toys, words of comfort and other items reflecting sympathy and love,” said the release.
Reach reporter Sara Castellanos at 720-449-9036 or [email protected]