The scene looked festive -- the colorful Christmas tree next to the gazebo ablaze in light -- but the reason more than two dozen residents gathered at Town Center Park Saturday night was anything but.
They were there to remember the victims of Friday's shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.
Hamden resident Sarah Gagne organized the vigil after seeing comments on the Hamden Patch Facebook page about how there was no services planned in Hamden.
"Obviously there was a need," she said. "There were not a lot of people here who were directly impacted but this affects all of us as a community.
"There are a lot of people who are feeling lost and lonely and don't know how to process it," she said. "It's good to come out and be together."
"I wanted to light a candle and give respect to those who died," said Alexa Wildman, a Hamden Middle School student who was there with sisters Reagan and Kelsea.
"We feel like people need new hope," Kelsea said.
Among those there was Mayor Scott Jackson, but he wasn't there as mayor but as a citizen, he said.
"What you have here tonight is us," he said. "It's not government -- it's civic.
"I'm not here as mayor," he said, "but I'm here to support people who decided to get together in a public place to share their pain and look for support."
As the father of a six-year-old -- his son attends Ridge Hill School -- the shooting hit close to home, but he can't just look at it from that point of view, he said.
"The hardest part was I can't just look at it from that perspective," he said. "I have to look at it from a policy perspective and what we can do and what we should do."
The scariest part, he said, is that it looks like the town of Newtown had done everything right and yet the shooting still happened.
"That is very scary," he said. "You can be all prepared and have all the qualified people and have been making plans and can still lose dozens of lives in a couple of minutes."
And as a result of the shootings, Hamden will be examining everthing it now has in place and see what can be done better, he said.
"We have to look," he said. "We have security plans and the Board of Education and the police work together on them but now we are going to take that apart and do them again."
School officials will hold a forum today at 2 p.m. at Hamden Middle School to talk to staff and parents about school security and other issues concerning the Newtown shootings, Supt. of Schools Fran Rabinowitz said.