By Shawn Chitnis
WINDSOR, Colo. (CBS4) – Dozens gathered at a park in Windsor Wednesday evening to mourn the loss of an 8-year-old boy killed two days before in an accident during the town’s Labor Day parade.
“It was so important because we feel like a community we want to support this family,” Glenda Mills told CBS4, one of the organizers of the vigil at Eastman Park.
She and another resident asked on Facebook when would be an appropriate time to come together for the family of Brycen Zerby. An immediate response brought more than 100 people to the park for a candlelight vigil.
“I think just being a mother myself and feeling so heartbroken for this family and for our community, that we just decided that we needed to do this,” she said.
Zerby was hit while participating in a church-sponsored float for the annual Windsor Harvest Festival. The coroner’s office ruled his death an accident.
“There is one thing that this community is fierce about, and that is coming together, that is this, that is you, coming together,” John Mehl told the crowd, a campus pastor for Timberline Church. “Unfortunately, tonight it has to be moment like this where it just hurts, it just hurts that we lost, we lost Brycen Zerby, like we did.”
Standing around some benches at a covered section inside the park, Mehl was one of two pastors who stood on top of a table and spoke into a microphone so all could hear. He tried to comfort the crowd during a difficult time for the entire town and also honor the short but joyful life of a young boy.
“We don’t know you but we love you and we’re sorry and we’re grieving with you and that’s a powerful thing,” added Eric Ebbinghaus, a campus pastor at Generations Church. “This is awful, just because they put their faith in Jesus doesn’t make this experience easy. It’s still the worst possible thing.”
Both speakers also wanted to acknowledge the show of support from the community, a sign of strength during such a sad moment for Windsor.
“They lost their son, their little boy,” Ebbinghaus said to all gathered around him. “A young man who was bright and energetic, loved Jesus himself, and loved people around him at his school, and talked to everybody that he knew, and couldn’t sit still, and loved to serve, and was extremely generous.”
Teammates from his football team were some of the people touched by Zerby in attendance for the vigil. But many in the crowd did not know Zerby or his family.
Ebbinghaus stood high above the crowd as well, many listening to his every word and unable to hide their tears. He looked out at all the people huddled around him, often struggling to hold back his own emotions, sharing just how much Zerby meant to so many around him and how everyone could learn from the young boy’s example.
“A life we could look at and say this world needs more people like Brycen Zerby,” said Ebbinghaus. “Just because we don’t see the results right away, the ripple goes far beyond what we could hope.”
Ebbinghaus said a prayer for the family and the town of Windsor as a whole and the crowd lit candles together for all that were hurting from this accident. A reminder to longtime residents about how this community knows to heal together.
“I just feel like there’s so much love here, that this is just Windsor,” said Mills. “Windsor pulls together in a tragedy and we’re all here for one another.”