The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

January 31, 2013

Snowman memorializes Sandy Hook victims

By MARGIE NETZEL - mnetzel@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

GENEVA — Robin Peggs spent hours painting and stitching and gluing Driftwood Industries’ entry in the annual Winterfest snowman decorating contest.

This year the wooden snowman entry was different, and Peggs’ heart broke when she stepped back to look at her work.

The entry, located on a pole near KeyBank along South Broadway, is a carefully constructed memorial to the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting in Newtown Conn.

The names of the 20 slain children, six adults at the school and the gunman’s mother, who was also killed, are handstitched on the snowman’s scarf and hat.

Driftwood Industries, located in Geneva, is a sheltered workshop for more than 40 developmentally disabled adults.

Peggs, a workshop supporter at Driftwood Industries, said the idea of making a snowman as a memorial for the victims was emotional for herself and fellow workshop supporter Deb McDonald.

“My cousin is a teacher at Chardon High School and he was there during the shooting last year,” she said. “We were all so shook up about the Sandy Hook shooting because we knew what it felt like to have someone you love in that situation.”

Peggs said school shootings are becoming more and more common and no community is immune to violence.

“We saw it with the Chardon High School shooting,” she said. “This can happen anywhere. I think the Sandy Hook shooting hit us harder locally because of the Chardon shooting. We feel their pain even more closely.”

Peggs said she hopes people will take the time to read the names on the snowman.

“We enter the snowman decorating contest every year, but I really think this snowman is special,” she said.

The snowman decorating contest, which has 27 entries this year, is sponsored by the Geneva Business Association and administered by Rae-Ann of Geneva Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation as part of the city’s Winterfest.

Winterfest will be held Saturday throughout Geneva and includes the Chili Cook-off in the Depot Road lot, free horse-drawn wagon rides, a spaghetti lunch at the Fraternal Order of Eagles on West Main Street, wine tasting and entertainment at The Old Mill Winery on South Broadway, day-long events at the Geneva Community Center including the talent show; an indoor inflatable playground at the Geneva Recreation Center and the Kent State Ice Carvers in the North Broadway municipal parking lot.

Snowfall permitting, the Geneva-on-the-Lake Muni-cipal Golf Course will host snowshoeing, free cookies and hot cocoa and snowmobile rides from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., and the ice skating rink next to the Geneva Community Center will be open. Skate rentals will be available on site.

For more information on Winterfest, including a full schedule of events, visit www.genevaohio.com.