At the very center of Newtown, on one its highest and most visible points, is the emblem of the town of 28,000 — a 10-storey-tall flagpole. Since Friday, the massive flag suspended from it has flown at half staff, reflecting the enormity of the loss this community has suffered.
Speaking of halves, though, some locals say this town is often capable of seeing the glass half full, and that showed, even in the midst of great grief as Newtown held its first of more than two dozen funerals.
The sorrow was evident on the faces of the hundreds of people who went to the viewing and funeral of Jack Pinto, a 6 year-old gunned down in Adam Lanza’s one-man massacre in Pinto’s school, Sandy Hook Elementary, last Friday. Many of the mourners were children — schoolmates and teammates of the athletic boy who was active in the local wrestling league.
“Jack was on the wrestling team with [my son],” said one father, who’d brought his elementary school son with him to the viewing and funeral. “My thoughts I had for the Pinto Family [at the viewing] are private.”
He was not alone, by any means. Most mourners chose not to comment about the morning-long viewing, which was followed by a funeral service that lasted all of 25 minutes.
Some mourners did confirm that in death, Jack was dressed much the same way he was proud to be seen during his short life. The devoted New York Giants fan was buried in a red and white Giants jersey with the name of his favorite player, Victor Cruz, emblazoned on the back.
“His favorite team was the Giants,” said Luke Wellman, a fifth grade wrestling teammate of Pinto, “And he always said how good [Cruz] was.”
In fact, Cruz acknowledged Jack Pinto’s adoration by writing the boy’s name on the gloves and cleats he wore in Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons. Cruz also wrote the phrases “My hero,” “This one is 4 U” and “R.I.P.” on his cleats and gloves.
A spokesperson for the New York Giants confirmed to PIX11 News that Cruz will visit with Pinto’s family later this week in a private meeting. Cruz is expected in the meeting to give his cleats and gloves to the family as mementoes, dedicated to their son.
The gesture is one of many ways in which mourners in Newtown were trying to find comfort. “God will keep them,” said Sheila DiNardo, a friend of Pinto’s grandparents. “And Jack’s in heaven,” she said. “That’s all that matters.”
Another visitor to the wake was Kelly Capps, who does not know the Pintos. Instead, the Norwalk, Connecticut mother said she had come at the bidding of her two young daughters. “They asked us to bring a teddy bear for each of [the victims], and that’s what we did,” she told PIX11 News.
Many acts of generosity were shown to the hundreds of mourners, including free hot beverages for them, courtesy of an emergency dispatcher in California who covered the tab at the coffee shop closest to the funeral home where the wake and funeral took place.
Some other donors from across the country had candy delivered to the dozens and dozens of children who had gone to Jack’s viewing to say goodbye. Other donors paid for gourmet lunches to be delivered to all first responders working at Jack’s farewell.
David Callen, a local resident, who showed to the cameras the label on one of the boxes of donated candy, which had been given by three children in Kansas City, summed up his feelings. They appeared to be shared by other Newtown residents. “I feel so horrible for the family,” Callen said, “but these gestures from around the country are making us heal.”