NORTH PORT, Fla. — The Gabby Petito memorial at North Port City Hall continues to grow, and on Saturday, members of the North Port community added to it as they held a butterfly release and a candlelight memorial in honor of her.
Dozens of people showed up for the memorial, expressing their support for the Petito family as they prepare to lay Gabby to rest in New York on Sunday.
“It was just not the answer we wanted. But at least she is home with her family and they get to have their closure and peace,” said Lisa Correll, a member of the community who organized the memorial.
While most of the people in the crowd outside North Port City Hall on Saturday did not personally know Gabby Petito, many of them say they felt a connection to her.
“Just to hear her parents talk of her when she was first missing and it was just the vibrant attach of her beauty, and just the sorrow to know what the family was going through. I have daughters myself as well as granddaughters, so it was very emotional to begin with,” said Correll.
And for some, imagining the loss the Petito family is feeling hit a little too close to home.
“I felt a connection with Gabby, mainly because my dad was murdered in 2017. It was my daddy, but no parent should ever lose their child,” said Renee Zalewski, a member of the North Port community.
A community vowing to keep Gabby’s light shining, and making sure her family knows they’re standing behind them.
“It’s denial, it’s shocking, you’re gonna go through so many emotions, the anger, just please keep Gabby as the good memories, not the bad, and keep those good memories that will help you, and the world’s got your back,” said Zalewski.
The City of North Port has placed signs out front of city hall, reserving an area for the Gabby Petito memorial. Members of the community are invited to add to it if they’d like.