City to Take Down Red Ribbons
Friday, December 28, 2012
The red ribbons of support and comfort tied around City of Chardon trees following the Feb. 27 Chardon High School shooting are being taken down.
After the city consulted with Chardon Schools officials, families of the students shot and killed and several others, it was decided it was time to remove the now tattered ribbons as the next step in the ongoing community healing process, said Chardon City Council President and Mayor Phil King.
“As hard as it is for some of us, it was believed that changing the daily reminder of what happened by taking down the ribbons in favor of a more long-term memorialization and remembrance of the kids is in the community’s long-term best interests,” King said.
The parents of the three students killed — Daniel Parmertor, 16, Demetrius Hewlin, 16, and Russell King Jr., 17 — and those wounded — Joy Rickers, 18, Nick Walczak, 18, and Nate Mueller, 17 — were also consulted.
“The families of the victims have very much appreciated the outpouring of support in joining them in expressing the desire to remember their children by the placement of these ribbons,” the city said in a statement.
All were shown a copy of a Dec. 24 press release announcing the decision, which was drafted by David Schonfeld, director of the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement, before it was released, King added.
“We knew that at some point in time we had to deal with the ongoing memorial on each city tree and should handle it in a way that’s healthy for the community,” he said. “This in no way minimizes the importance of the events of that day and the loss of life and injuries sustained.”
The red ribbons on private trees are not affected by the decision, only those tied to city trees around Chardon Square and elsewhere, most of which are becoming worn and tattered, King said.
After they are taken down — many of which already have been on the square — the ribbons will be used to build a more permanent remembrance that will be presented to the students’ families, he said.
Residents who choose to remove ribbons from their trees can donate them to the city for the memorial for victims’ families. They can be dropped off in the front lobby of the Chardon Municipal Center, 111 Water St.
King said city and Chardon Schools officials plan to focus on a permanent fixed memorial at Chardon High School or elsewhere in the city and will announce those plans in the coming weeks.
Councilwoman Nancy McArthur also said the removal of ribbons was needed because of their condition.
“We have ribbons all over my neighborhood in the Woods of Burlington and they also are kind of looking bad, too, so it’s time to take the ribbons down and move on,” McArthur said. “There will be the memorial and other remembrances, so it’s not like these students or that day (Feb. 27) will ever be forgotten.”
Councilman Mitch Hewitt, a teacher and football coach at Chardon High School, said the removal of the ribbons was a hard decision for the city.
“There is no class for this, there’s no education for this, no given solution,” he said. “It was best to leave the decision to experts and people who deal with grief like this man (Schonfeld) and our city manager.”
Hewitt said he and other Chardon teachers received advice from Schonfeld following the shooting.