Emotional relatives of Worcester's six fallen firefighters applauded the chosen design for a memorial to the slain men yesterday, saying the winning concept was the one they liked best out of nearly 160 entries.
Submitted by Gala Simon Associates, Inc. of Watertown, the design features six stone pillars bearing the names of the six men who died on Dec. 3, 1999, in a vacant warehouse.
"This was our preference," said James Lyons, whose son Jay, was among the six who perished. "It was our preference not only because of the design, but we thought it had a lot of soul which every memorial needs. And that's going to be their task now, to provide that soul."
The winning design was picked from five finalists in a nationwide contest coordinated by the Worcester Fire Fighters Memorial Committee. The Gala Simon design was a favorite of many of the fallen firefighters' relatives and their Worcester Fire Department colleagues. A moving feature of the memorial is a display of lights on top of each stone pillar that will intersect into one beam above the memorial "as a symbol of the firefighters' intent to reach each other" during the fire.
"It's a very impressive design. I think at night it will really be beautiful when it's lit up," said Mary Jackson, whose husband Timothy was one of the fallen six.
Denise Brotherton, whose husband Paul died in the fire and left six sons without a father, said the memorial design will help the Worcester area find closure.
"I have my memorial in my six boys and myself everyday," she said. "I just hope and pray we have done the community justice to thank them for their outpouring and they continue to help us."
Organizers must raise nearly $5 million for the memorial.