Gabby Petito’s NY hometown holds solemn candlelight vigil

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Gabby Petito's NY hometown holds solemn candlelight vigil

Heartbroken residents of Gabby Petito’s Long Island hometown lit up their small waterfront community Friday night in a somber vigil.

Dubbed “Light the Night For Gabby Petito,” the ceremony in quiet Blue Point and neighboring communities honored the life of the slain 22 year-old, whose body was found and identified in Grand Teton National Park on Tuesday before being returned to Long Island.

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. Blue was chosen because it reminds Petito’s mother, Nichole Schmidt, “of the color of Gabby’s eyes,” organizer Jennifer McNamara, of the Johnny Mac Foundation, told The Post.

Residents across Bayport-Blue Point held a vigil for Gabby Petito Friday evening, placing candles at the base of their driveways to remember the young woman who was killed in Wyoming on a cross-country trip with her boyfriend Brian Laundrie
Residents across Bayport-Blue Point honor Gabby Petito, whose remains were found in Wyoming’s Bridger-Teton National Forest on Sept. 19.
Dennis A. Clark

“It’s beyond amazing. It’s just in life — Gabby was a bright shining star. And now in her death she is the brightest star,” Noreen Gibbons, who said she considered herself like Gabby’s second grandmother told News 12 Long Island on Friday. 

Jennifer Horton, of Blue Point, joined in the tribute to the tragically lost community member by putting some lights at the end of her drive, News 12 reported.

“When the community loses one, we all do,” Horton said. “So just remember the great life she had. Losing her so young and just to really celebrate her life.”

A billboard has also gone up at Nicolls Road and Montauk Highway near the Petito family home.

gabby petito zion national park
Gabby Petito in Zion National Park on July 16.
Instagram
Petito at Bryce Canyon National Park on July 21.
Petito at Bryce Canyon National Park on July 21.
Instagram

A memorial is planned Saturday in North Port, Florida, where friends will release butterflies and light candles to honor Petito. The event in front of North Port City Hall will begin at 7:15 p.m.

A public service at Moloney’s Funeral Home in Holbrook is scheduled for Sunday from noon to 5 p.m., Petito’s father Joseph Petito confirmed on Friday.

Gabby Petito was reported missing by her family on Sept. 11 after going on a weeks-long cross-country van trip with her boyfriend Brian Laundrie, who came home to North Port alone on Sept. 1.

Petito was last seen alive at a Wyoming restaurant on Aug. 27, and her mother received her last text message from her phone on Aug. 30.

Gabby Petito memorial Long Island
“Gabby was a bright shining star. And now in her death she is the brightest star,” Noreen Gibbons, who said she considered herself her second grandmother, said.
Dennis A. Clark

Her body was found in a remote section of a Wyoming national forest and her death was ruled a homicide by the Teton County coroner’s office.

Laundrie was reported missing by his parents on Sept. 17 after he took off on a supposed hike of the Carlton Reserve, a 25,000-acre nature preserve in Sarasota County, on Sept. 14. He was indicted by the FBI on Friday in connection with Petito’s death as authorities continue to scour the South Florida swamps for him.

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