The mass shooting of a year ago prompted an unprecedented outpouring of emotion in Southern Nevada.
Thousands left tokens of condolence at impromptu memorials that sprang up after the attack that left 58 dead. Others sought solace at a healing garden that took shape with volunteer hands.
The Las Vegas Community Healing Garden in the Arts District will be the site of a memorial ceremony on the one-year anniversary of the attack at 6:30 and then at 10:05, which is when the shooting started, there will be a ceremony to remember the lives lost.
The quiet spot at the south end of downtown stirs emotions as eclectic as the items of remembrance that visitors leave.
“The hugs and the laughter and the smiles — even if they are through tear-filled eyes — are very, very prevalent. And that’s what’s very strong about that place,” said Jessica Anderson who tends to the garden for Get Outdoors Nevada, the nonprofit charged by the city with maintaining the space
Anderson told KNPR's State of Nevada that she gets choked up when she reads the letters from children who lost their mothers on that day.
She said the garden is always changing as people bring in ornaments, rocks, pictures and letters.
“It is hard to go there and not feel the love and the loss and to have some tears in your eyes but then to also that realize as a community we’ve stayed together really, really strong and we’re not forgetting what happened and we’re still holding these people very true and near and dear to our hearts,” she said.
Staff and volunteers at the Clark County Museum have spent the last year cataloging items left at the impromptu memorials that sprang up at the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign and elsewhere.
In September, they cataloged their 15,000th artifact, according to Cynthia Sanford, registrar for the museum. Some of those pieces will be on display into October at the museum and the Clark County Government Center.
The white crosses that were set up at the Welcome sign will be on display in the rotunda of the government center.
One of the most touching pieces for Sandford that is on display at the museum is a large gray tarp with the words "Vegas Strong" written on it. The tarp is covered in words of condolence and signatures from people from around the world.
“It’s a powerful story of how everyone came together, people from the community, people visiting, people who just love Las Vegas,” she said.
Sanford said that over the last year her team developed mutual-support strategies when the emotions of their tasks became too much.
“What makes us work well together is we’re all doing the same thing. We’re all experiencing the same thing. So that really helps,” she said.
Jessica Anderson, Get Outdoors Nevada; Cynthia Sanford, registrar, Clark County Museum