Three survivors of the mass shooting inside the Pulse nightclub in Orlando that left 49 people dead and 53 wounded will ride aboard the AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s Rose Parade float, which will be a tribute to those who were killed.
Also riding on the float will be the owner of the gay nightclub and various Orlando residents who took part in recovery efforts following the June 12 shooting.
The float, titled “To Honor and Remember Orlando,” will feature a giant dove soaring over a field of 49 white stars representing each of the victims of the shooting. The float will also feature a colorful rainbow representing “the diversity of the LGBTQ community” and symbolizing “the humanity of all victims killed or injured.” The float will also feature a “Tree of Life” with condolence notes left on a communal board in Orlando. During the parade, 49 white doves will twice be released from the float.
Riding on the float will be three survivors of the attack — Victor Baez Febo, Isaiah Henderson and Jahqui Sevilla, whose boyfriend was killed in the attack. Also riding will be Barbara Poma, cofounder and owner of the club, and four people who took part in recovery and community-healing efforts — Patty Sheehan, an openly gay Orlando City Commissioner; Joel Morales, an HIV testing counselor and case worker for many survivors and families; and Corey Lyons and Gustavo Marrero, the president and vice president of Impulse Group Orlando. The group is a chapter of AHF’s network of Impulse Groups and worked to assist those affected by the shooting, according to AHF.
“It will be a privilege to take part in this Rose Parade float honoring the dead, the wounded, the survivors and the family members left behind after the Orlando tragedy,” Lyons said. “However, we must not lose sight of the fact that this beautiful float also serves as a solemn and sacred reminder to millions of parade viewers around the world that the stigma and discrimination that led to this attack are not over. The fight goes on, and we must be vigilant in speaking out and speaking out against such bigotry, hatred and injustice.”
The Rose Parade will make its way along Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena on Jan. 2.
–City News Service