TUPPER LAKE - A large crowd of people showed up at the Tupper Lake Municipal Park Friday evening for a Luminary Prayer Ceremony for 18-year-old Colin Gillis, who went missing about two weeks ago.
The ceremony started with a moment of silence at 9 p.m., followed by short talks by village Mayor Paul Maroun and Colin's father, John.
Attendees were then invited to walk through more than 300 luminaries - candles set in sand-filled paper bags - on the baseball field. Each bag had an inscription directed toward Colin. Many of them wished for his safe return.
Lighted luminary bags line the field at the Tupper Lake Municipal Park ball field Friday night as part of a community-wide effort to support the family of Colin Gillis, 18, who has been missing from Tupper Lake since the early morning hours of March 11.
(Enterprise photo — Mike Lynch)
"Tonight, we see that Tupper Lake has heart and soul, faith and commitment to friends and family in need," Maroun said after the moment of silence. "We're gathered here tonight to make sure that our prayers bring Colin back from wherever he is, safe and sound, unharmed."
Maroun thanked local police, rescue squad, volunteers, state police and the state Department of Environmental Conservation for their efforts in the search for Gillis.
John Gillis thanked people for their support during his family's difficult time. Gillis said that on the wall of his family's home is an Irish proverb that says, "It is in the shelter of each other that people live."
Colin Gillis is described as a white male, 6 feet, 1 inch tall, weighing about 170 pounds with blond hair and blue eyes. State police said he was last seen wearing a white shirt with black stripes, blue jeans and red sneakers.
Anyone with information is asked to call state police's Ray Brook headquarters at 518-897-2000.
He continued by saying, "Through this difficult time, the love and support you've shown us makes us feel blessed to be in your shelter. There are many places in the world where a person's absence is accepted or ignored - not around here. Thank you for showing Colin that our love is worth any effort to get him back."
The event was a fundraiser to support ongoing search efforts for Colin Gillis, who went missing about two weeks ago after leaving a party on foot.
He is believed to have last been seen at about 1:45 a.m. Sunday, March 11, on state Route 3 near the line between Franklin and St. Lawrence counties, where Tupper Lake meets Piercefield. An extensive search in the week after his disappearance turned up few details about where he may have gone.
The Colin Gillis Fund, set up through Community Bank, will also get proceeds from a comedy show by Dan Viola that had already been scheduled for April 28. The money will go to support the Gillis family through their search for their son.
"In a time of crisis, people just come together, and they support one another, and they are there for one another, and that's just what happened," said Tupper Lake Events Coordinator Faith Bedore, who helped organize the event with the help of about 20 volunteers. "The calls are amazing. I just can't get over how many people want to do something."