With poignant words, funny anecdotes and heartbreaking emotion, the father of two Grosse Pointe home fire victims spoke Saturday about his hockey-playing sons Logan and Briggs.
"I'm told there are hockey sticks on porches all over the country and I'm grateful," The Detroit News quotes Walter Connolly as saying at a packed fieldhouse in reference to a salute that began locally.
"Instead of thinking how sad, there are the parents who lost their boys ... think there go the mother and father who experienced unconditional love ... for 9 and 11 years."
Family friends dressed in Red Wings jerseys joined together in song, "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling."
At the front of the community gym on Lake Shore Road, writes Sarah Rahal of The News, was an offrenda altar of the type created by Mexican families to commemorate Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) from Oct. 31 until Nov. 2.
A framed photo of Logan Connolly, 9, and Briggs Connolly, 11, sat at the center of the ofrenda -- an altar surrounded by pink and orange flowers, candles and things that they loved, including drawings, hockey skates and a box of Cheerios.
Fox 2 News coverage:
Original post, Saturday morning:
Wide-ranging communities touched by a house fire that killed two Grosse Pointe brothers will gather Saturday afternoon to show sympathy and support for their parents.
A "celebration of life" service for Logan Connolly, 9, and 11-year-old Briggs Connolly is at 3 p.m. in The Grosse Pointe Academy Tracy Fieldhouse, 171 Lake Shore Rd. in Grosse Pointe Farms.Visitation begins there an hour earlier and continues until 7 p.m.
In addition to family members, participants will include neighbors, Richard Elementary School parents, students and teachers, youth hockey families, work colleagues of the parents and other Metro Detroiters touched by Monday’s fire on Fisher Road near Mack Avenue.
The parents, Azucena Beltran and Walter Briggs Connolly III, ask that attendees not wear black. "This will be a celebration of the life of two wonderful boys," posts Grosse Pointe Park native M.L. Elrick, a Fox 2 reporter who’s active in the adult and youth hockey community.
Memorial participants "are, of course, welcome to wear your hockey jerseys," he adds Friday on Facebook. "I think this request is more evidence of what a gracious and inspiring family we are privileged to know."
The fourth- and fifth-graders were avid hockey league skaters. All week, families throughout the Pointes and beyond have displayed hockey sticks on front porches or steps in a tribute to the young players.
Connolly relatives include two great-grandparents, as well as grandparents, aunts, uncles and seven cousins, according to Verheyden Funeral Homes.
More than $24,300 is donated by over 170 people at a GoFundMe page created by a St. Clair Shores Hockey Association club to help the family.