Stewartstown, New Hampshire - August 5, 2011
About 300 people attended the 35th annual Stewartstown Day celebration, which went on despite the sadness and uncertainty over the past week, with the discovery of Celina Cass's body in the Connecticut River.
For a few moments before the crowning of the Stewartstown Day queen, clergy and a town official spoke.
"We've gone through some pretty tough times the last couple of weeks," said Bill Allen, the town's emergency management director, who directed scores of volunteers who brought food to feed as many investigators who looked for Cass.
He thanked the community for donating food, for baking cookies and casseroles, noting that without that assistance, those who were doing their jobs in the field would not have been fed.
"When the North Country goes through trying times, we come together to get things done," he said, as those attending applauded.
The Rev. Craig Cheney of the local St. Albert's Catholic Church, reminded those gathered that the annual festivities of Stewartstown Day "celebrates children and life" and that "we will continue on."
The Rev. Matthew Coons of Independent Baptist Church, said he was relieved earlier this week when the decision was made not to cancel the event.
"It is right and fitting to do so," he said. "It is good to recognize that life will move on, but we won't ever forget that a precious child has been taken from us," he said.
Attending the brief dedication of the event to his daughter was Adam Laro, Cass's father, who cried during the remarks and had to be assisted from the tent. His mother, Marcia Laro, said the family is trying to cope.
Stewartstown Day festivities continue Saturday morning with a parade through town at 10 a.m., in which a float honoring Cass's memory is expected to be a part of it.
Note: Article contributed by Lorna Colquhoun.