OGDEN, Utah (ABC 4 News) - Emilie Parker's family held a public memorial to express gratitude for the outpouring of love and support demonstrated by hundreds of individuals in Ogden and the surrounding areas.
Emilie's family transported her body back to Ogden for burial and was greeted with pink ribbons tied to hundreds of poles along city streets. Pink was her favorite color.
"To see your love expressed in that way was so meaningful," said Emilie's father Robbie Parker. "It made us feel like we were getting a big hug from everybody," he continued
Emilie was shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut along with 19 classmates and six adult staff members December 14 a little after 9:30 a.m.
She moved to the City from Ogden to Portland, Albuquerque and eventually Connecticut because her father was earning a degree to become a physicians assistant and eventually for his employment.
The public memorial in Ogden was held December 20 inside Ben Lomand High School's atrium at 7:00 p.m.
Emilie's father Robbie Parker appeared to be in a state of shock at he stood behind the podium before the crowd. He said his daughter's death was senseless before losing his composure for several seconds.
He continued by talking about falling in love with his wife, marrying and eventually struggling financially with his young family. He talked about one Christmas when they agreed to make homemade presents. He knitted a hat and scarf for Emilie and was grateful that she was too young to look at the quality of the items. He recalls that even thought times were tough, there was love in his home and Emilie only added to the love.
He recalled times when he would go for walks with his daughter but said he could not get far because Emilie would pick so many flowers. He eventually taught her to ask before picking flowers to which she quickly complied. She eventually learned that it was alright to pick Dandy Lions.
Family describes Emily as a sweet balanced child who was very girlie and cared deeply about others. It was not uncommon for the little girl to tell her friends that they were special. She was also known to always have crayons or markers in her pocket. She loved to draw pictures for others, especially if they were feeling down.
"We are grateful and honored that you would bring Emilie back to our community," said Ogden Mayor Caldwell. He talked about how the citizen's pooled their money to buy every single pink ribbon in the town to put on display for the girl's grieving family.
One of the more emotional portions of the memorial was during a slide show revealing imagines never before made public of the little girl. Pictures of Emilie smiling at the camera, in a pumpkin patch, next to her siblings and many others brought tears to many eyes in the room. ABC 4 camera captured the tears from 6-year-old Olivia Lepore who is the same age as Emilie.
Parker's uncle Brady Cottle shared written statements from her cousins and friends. One read, "She (Emilie) taught me how to draw. Emilie says I'm special." Cottle says, "That's the kind of life we should all try to lead." He described her smile as contagious and was grateful for her positive energy.
Emilie's grandmother Karen Parker recalled a special moment. She remembers the phone call from Emilie, her little voice asking her to travel to her ballet recital last December. Karen agreed to go and noticed that while all the other little girls in her ballet group wiggled and squirmed in their seats before the performance. Emily sat like a grown woman watching other girls perform. Karen says her little back was straight, her head held high, her hands were crossed with fingers interlaced and resting on one knee and her legs were bent in the fashion of a model with her ankles gentle crisscrossed. "As I looked at her, that's a picture of perfection," said Parker.
After thoughts from family and friends, the crowd gathered onto a nearby football field to release floating lanterns in the air. It was a symbolic gesture to say goodbye to Emilie and her classmates.
Emilie Parker's visitation is Friday and her funeral is Saturday. "There's just a limited amount of space at the funeral and at the viewing and the Parker's would like that to be close family and friends so this is a way that everyone can come together can come together Thursday night and show their support to the Parkers," said Cottle.
Emilie's mother and father are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Her aunt, Jill Cottle Grant, says the girl's family believes Emilie's spirit continues to live even though her body is dead. They also believe family members can greet each other in the afterlife.
Her grandfather Doug Cottle died a few months ago at age 62 on September 29 from complications brought on by a bike accident. Grant says the family is taking comfort in their belief that Emilie was greeted in the afterlife by her grandfather who she dearly loved in this life.