DRYDEN, NY – On Saturday, almost 200 members of the Dryden community attended the first annual “Walk to Remember,” an event intended to memorialize residents of the town who have passed away.

In the mid-to-late 1990s, Dryden was the site of a series of tragic deaths that left the town reeling. A group called Lion Legacy was recently formed with the purpose of recasting the town’s legacy as one of community and perseverance, instead of tragedy.

The Walk to Remember wasn’t just about remembering those lost to tragic circumstances, but rather a memorial for anyone that the Dryden community had lost.

The event included a reading of names submitted by community members who had lost someone — a total of 263 people were named during the remembrance ceremony. Luminary bags were sold that were decorated in tribute to those who passed. The money from selling the bags will go to fund scholarships for Dryden students and future Lion Legacy events.

Rhonda Kowalski, who chairs the Lion Legacy organization and was one of the primary organizer of the event, said she was glad that so many people attended the event despite the heat and humidity.

“I always felt as though this was something important and needed, and it was nice to sit in the press box, look down on the hundreds of people that came and smile – not because I was right, but because we were all there with one goal in mind – to remember the lives people led and how they touched us,” Kowalski said.

Kowalski added that she was grateful for all the community support involved in putting the event together. “They say it take a village to raise a child, well it takes all of the residents (both past and present) of a community to pull off an event like this and that is what we did,” she said.

While Kowalski said that Lion Legacy is still enjoying the success of the Walk to Remember, they’ve set their sites on a few potential events for the future. Possibilities may include a silent auction to raise money for scholarships, a Distinguished Alumni Award and a “Wall of Success” to honor Dryden grads and show current students what previous students have accomplished.

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Below is a gallery of photos from the event, courtesy of Shana Karn of Shots by Shana Photography. You can find over 100 more on the Lion Legacy Facebook Page.

Michael Smith

Michael Smith reports on politics and local news for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached via email at msmith@ithacavoice.com, by cell at (607) 229-0885, or via Google Voice at (518) 650-3639.