2012-12-26 / Features

Sunnyside Community Holds Candlelight Vigil For Sandy Hook

BY LIZ GOFF


Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer joined more than 200 friends, neighbors and family members of Benjamin Wheeler and Dawn Hochsprung, who were murdered in the Newtown, Connecticut school shooting, for a march and candlelight vigil in memory of all who lost their lives. The vigil was held at Sunnyside Gardens Park where Francine Wheeler, Benjamin Wheeler’s mother and former Sunnyside resident, was an active member of the park. During the vigil, a number of Sunnyside residents gave touching speeches about the Wheeler family’s direct connection and relationship to families in the neighborhood. Children from P.S. 150 and I.S. 125 also took part in the remembrance ceremony, singing songs of hope and love to the crowd that filled the Sunnyside playground. Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer joined more than 200 friends, neighbors and family members of Benjamin Wheeler and Dawn Hochsprung, who were murdered in the Newtown, Connecticut school shooting, for a march and candlelight vigil in memory of all who lost their lives. The vigil was held at Sunnyside Gardens Park where Francine Wheeler, Benjamin Wheeler’s mother and former Sunnyside resident, was an active member of the park. During the vigil, a number of Sunnyside residents gave touching speeches about the Wheeler family’s direct connection and relationship to families in the neighborhood. Children from P.S. 150 and I.S. 125 also took part in the remembrance ceremony, singing songs of hope and love to the crowd that filled the Sunnyside playground. Residents in Sunnyside are mourning the death of six-year-old Benjamin Wheeler, one of the 20 children killed last week at their Connecticut elementary school.

The Wheeler family lived in the historic Sunnyside Gardens complex for the first two years of Benjamin’s short life, until the family moved from Queens to Sandy Hook, Connecticut in 2007.

Members of the family’s former Queens community gathered this week for a candlelight vigil and memorial service held at Sunnyside Reformed Church for Benjamin and slain school Principal Dawn Hochsprung, organized by Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer.

Hochsprung, who put herself between children at the elementary school and the gunman, also has relatives in the Sunnyside area.

The Wheeler family moved from Sunnyside to Sandy Hook on the advice of friends, family members said. “They wanted to give their children the idyllic lifestyle offered by Sandy Hook, but they have always held Queens close to their hearts,” family members said.

Francine Wheeler, Benjamin’s mother, is credited with establishing Sunnymoms In Sunnyside”, a social group that often takes on local challenges to help maintain quality of life in the community.

“From his earliest days, Benjamin had a love affair with the No.7 train,” an uncle said. “When he was very young, he would stare up at the train, kick his little legs and squeal at the sight of the cars.

“And when he started walking, there was no end to his excitement when he saw or heard the train rumbling through the neighborhood.”

Return to top

Copyright 1999-2014 The Service Advertising Group, Inc. All rights reserved.