BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – The work went on for hours Tuesday as volunteers helped museum experts remove mementos, flowers and messages along the chain link fence in front of the King Soopers on Table Mesa Drive. The spot became a powerful place of remembrance for the 10 killed in the March 22 mass shooting.
“You could feel the weight when you’re taking the things down and someone put thought into putting it there,” said Boulder resident and volunteer John Briggs.
They were removing flowers. Many of the tried and time-rotted ones will go to be composted. Others that seem intact will go to artists to put to use.
Boulder is still considering what to do on a long-term basis to remember the victims of the shooting. The city will work with the families of the victims, the community and King Soopers among others to consider the possibilities.
A permanent memorial is likely as far as 2 years out. Where it would be placed will also have to be determined in that process.
“It was pretty heavy,” Briggs said of the emotional toll of removing all of the things tied to the fences and placed along the sidewalk.
“This will go into the museum. And so it’ll be there for those that come after us,” said neighborhood resident Corrine Haslett as she gently removed trinkets and tiny stuffed animals tied to the fence.
“They’re really sensitive and respectful because it’s their King Soopers,” said Chelsea Pennington Hahn, curator of collections at The Museum of Boulder. “This is their neighborhood and they really want to treat things with respect.”
She was organizing and sorting among the thousands of things. Some were moved to the basement of the library across the street for temporary shortage. Some day they may be displayed as a piece of the city’s history.
“It has affected the community in such a raw way. And so that is definitely a challenge for the curator figuring out how does that balance with the rest of history. There are lots of other tragedies in our history where we sort of have that historic distance so we can look back at it. Obviously we don’t have that yet,” said Pennington Hahn.
The fence will be pulled back and covered with a fabric, with the message “Boulder Strong” that has come to be part of community recovery. The store, now with more permanent covering in front remains closed.
King Soopers plans to redesign it and re-open in the late fall.
A small, temporary floral installation will be placed on the west side of the development at the site. The public will be invited to remove and take flowers, provided by King Soopers, with them in remembrance. It will be open only between June 16 and 19.
The job of removing all of the mementos was hampered by rain late Tuesday. The museum and volunteers planned to be back at work Wednesday. A source of comfort will be gone.
“It’s very, very healing,” said Haslett about how the impromptu memorial has helped.
Gathering more items, Briggs noted how moving seeing some of it was, even the little things.
“When you’re going by the photographs of the people and there is the crosses of course… For the woman that did the food cart, someone had made a carrot and placed that on top there. It was very touching.”
King Soopers has said it would like thoughtful input on the redesign of the store. You can share feedback by emailing email@example.com.