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Support for Newtown on Christmas Day

Members Rutter family Sandy Hook Conn. embrace early Christmas morning as they stnear memorials by Sandy Hook firehouse Newtown Conn.Tuesday

Members of the Rutter family of Sandy Hook, Conn., embrace early Christmas morning as they stand near memorials by the Sandy Hook firehouse in Newtown, Conn.,Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2012. People continue to visit memorials after gunman Adam Lanza walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Dec. 14, and opened fire, killing 26, including 20 children, before killing himself. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

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Updated: January 27, 2013 6:32AM



NEWTOWN, Conn. — Newtown celebrated Christmas amid piles of snow-covered teddy bears, long lines of stockings and heaps of flowers as volunteers manned a 24-hour candlelight vigil in memory of the 20 children and six educators gunned down at an elementary school just 11 days before the holiday.

Well-wishers from around the country showed up Christmas morning to hang ornaments on a series of memorial Christmas trees while police officers from around the state took extra shifts to direct traffic, patrol the town and give police here a break.

“It’s a nice thing that they can use us this way,” Ted Latiak, a police detective from Greenwich, Conn., said Christmas morning, as he and a fellow detective, each working a half-day shift, came out of a store with bagels and coffee for other officers.

The expansive memorials throughout town have become a gathering point for town residents and visitors alike. A steady stream of residents, some in pajamas, relit candles that had been extinguished in an overnight snow storm.

Others took pictures, dropped off toys and fought back tears at a huge sidewalk memorial in the center of Newtown’s Sandy Hook section that is filled with stuffed animals, poems, flowers, posters and cards.

In the morning, Newtown resident Joanne Brunetti watched over 26 candles that had been lit at midnight in honor of those slain at Sandy Hook Elementary School. She and her husband, Bill, signed up for a three-hour shift and erected a tent to ensure that the candle flames never went out throughout the day.

“You have to do something and you don’t know what to do, you know? You really feel very helpless in this situation,” she said. “People have been wonderful to everybody in Newtown whether you were part of what happened or not. My thought is if we were all this nice to each other all the time maybe things like this wouldn’t happen.”

AP



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