Powerful tribute to NEPA lives claimed by COVID-19

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SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) – Lives lost to COVID-19 are being remembered in a special way in downtown Scranton.

A powerful tribute held today on Courthouse Square proved that while gone, those lives will never be forgotten.

200 empty chairs filled the Linden Street lawn at the Lackawanna County Courthouse Saturday afternoon, in memory of the nearly 600,000 Americans who died of COVID-19.

1,700 yellow hearts adorned with names strung on an evergreen arch represent the number of lives in northeastern Pennsylvania taken by the pandemic.

“For many of us, perhaps most of us, it’s a headache, emptiness and pain that has never been felt before,” said Trish Zimmerman.

That pain for Trish Zimmerman came in January when her father, Jim, lost his fight with the virus. She organized this event in his honor, and wore a mask with a likeness of him on a yellow heart.

“I’m showing him that, you know, I love him, I miss him, we’re still here and I will continue to tell your story because as long as we tell their stories, they’re here with us,” said Zimmerman.

“As a nurse and a daughter of a COVID victim…” said Marygrace Vadala of Archbald.

Registered nurse Mary Vadala from Archbald had something painful to share with the crowd.

“My mom, my aunt and my uncle, and out family’s story about how we spent the last nine months of last year… with all their deaths,” said Vadala.

Many clutched pictures of their loved ones while speakers recounted the immeasurable losses suffered throughout the community.

“Our job now is to continue to remember them. To continue to remember Scranton Santa, to continue to remember the brothers, the sisters, the husbands, the wives, the children that we have lost,” said Scranton Mayor Mayor Paige Cognetti.

Zimmerman hopes this gathering is a way to bring the community together.

“It’s just so important for people in the area to be able to grieve and recognize that we’ve lost so many people to COVID and they’re not just a number,” said Zimmerman.

The arch on courthouse square will feature the display of hearts throughout this month for all to see in downtown Scranton.

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