Candlelight vigil in Harlingen honors hurricane, Las Vegas victims

HARLINGEN — One by one, more than 50 people gathered at the Victor Park pavilion last night and lit a candle to honor those affected by recent natural disasters and the shooting in Las Vegas.

“In trying times, we respond best when we respond in faith,” Pastor Bill Reagan, executive director of Loaves and Fishes of the Rio Grande Valley, said shortly before the candlelight vigil began at 7 p.m.

Local residents, pastors and government officials came together in the park, including Harlingen Mayor Chris Boswell and Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño, Jr.

The vigil was the idea of two longtime friends, Pastor Donald Hamm of Kingdom Connection Worship Center in Brownsville and Harlingen’s Antonio Caldwell, an operations manager for IDEA Public Schools.

“My heart is really heavy over all the natural disasters, the hurricanes, the wildfires, the earthquake in Mexico, and the shooting in Las Vegas,” Hamm said.

“Especially with all the divisiveness happening in the country right now, we felt we should do something to pull our community together. We needed to do something to honor all the victims and pray for the families.”

Caldwell said he and Hamm decided on a vigil.

“Right after the Las Vegas shooting, I felt an overwhelming sense of urgency and need to bring the community together,” Caldwell said. “I felt a great need for healing and unity.”

Hamm said initially, the vigil was going to focus on those harmed during the recent hurricanes and other natural disasters along with the shooting in Las Vegas.

“It has kind of evolved,” Hamm said. “As we posted on Facebook and have spoken to people, there were other things they wanted us to pray for — teenagers, our local officials and just so many other things coming out of this.”