LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Organizers for First Friday are reflecting on the importance of community as the longtime Las Vegas tradition falls on 1 October for the first time.
“It’s kind of a mixed day, but it reminds us that First Friday is here to bring the community together — resilient community,” said Corey Fagan, executive director of the First Friday Foundation. “That we lift each other up, we come together, that we’re kind.”
The art festival is known for bringing hundreds of people to the downtown area each month. This time around, a remembrance ceremony took place just outside of the festival grounds, inside the Las Vegas Healing Garden.
Mayor Carolyn Goodman and the city's communications director, David Riggleman, read the names of those who lost their lives because of 1 October. A bell tolled and a candle was lit to honor each person who died.
But even outside of the Healing Garden, it's hard to find people in the community who were not directly affected by the shooting four years ago.
“We had a secretary in our office who was there and bullets went flying by her head,” said Jim Croteau, a First Friday attendee who lives in Las Vegas. “There’s a set of twins at our church—14, 15-year-old girls who both got hit. They survived.”
“For me, it’s important to always remember,” said Croteau. “Just like we always remember 9/11. Sometimes as individuals or as Americans — people have short memories.”
The folks in charge of First Friday see this as a reminder of its mission. The art festival is celebrating its 19th year, and those running the show are part of the Las Vegas community, too. And they haven’t forgotten.
“To be able to honor them today, by bringing everyone together in unity and kindness and gentleness, I think is really important for our community,” said Fagan. “And that is where Vegas Strong came from.”
And while Las Vegas is the life of everyone’s party, it’s become so much more since 1 October.
“We’d like people to know that there are real people that live here,” said Croteau. “That thrive here. And as it relates to 1 October, people who hurt and who remember.”
Those looking for support can call the Vegas Strong Resiliency Center at (702) 455-2433 or visit their website VegasStrongRC.org.