EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — On Friday, the flowers kept coming and coming to La Paz Faith Center. The overwhelming number of flowers, estimated to be more than 1,000 arrangements, came from all over the world to honor Margie Reckard, one of the 22 victims of the Walmart shooting.
Reckard’s husband, Antonio Basco, made a public plea for El Paso’s support just days before her services. He said Margie was his only family and he wanted to make sure he wasn’t alone at her service.
El Paso showed up. An estimated 3,000 people gathered in a solemn line that snaked for blocks around the Central El Paso church. Basco tried to shake hands with or hug every single person who came to pay their respects.
Then there was the question of what to do with the more than 1,000 flower arrangements. Sal Perches, of Perches Funeral Homes, who helped transport and bury several of the Walmart shooting victims, came up with the plan of gathering 22 hearses from funeral homes across the city.
Sunday morning, the more than 1,000 floral arrangements were loaded into the hearses at La Paz Faith Center in Central El Paso and made the 5.5-mile procession down Montana, then south on Airway to the Cielo Vista Walmart.
There, the El Paso community gathered to unload the floral arrangements and place them at the makeshift memorial site.
The symbolic display, organized by Perches and Operation HOPE’s Angel Gomez, was a final gesture from all El Paso Funeral Homes who stepped up to help in the last two weeks.
Within hours of the Walmart shooting, Gomez was in contact with several El Paso funeral homes that he’d worked with in the past.
Perches Funeral Home, Sunset Funeral Home, Martin Funeral Homes East and West, and Socorro Funeral Home all offered their services, free of charge, to the families of the 22 victims killed in the mass shooting.
The funeral homes agreed as a group not to accept a dime from the families or the El Paso Victim’s Assistance fund for their services. Money donated to the El Paso Community Foundation’s Victim’s Fund was used to help families who needed travel arrangements for services.
Saturday, the last victims of the Walmart shooting, including Margie Reckard, were laid to rest. The 22 hearse procession was a means to move forward from the grieving stage and into a healing stage for the El Paso community.
The flowers will be on display at the makeshift memorial until they wilt, they will then be taken by the Zaragoza Rotary Club to the El Paso Zoo where they will be turned into compost which will be used throughout the city.
“This site is important to El Paso and we must strive to keep it clean & respectable in honor of the victims & all those impacted by this tragedy,” said City Representative Henry Rivera, District 7.
Each week’s cleaning maintenance will be performed on Friday at 7 a.m.