Updated October 1, 2021 - 12:16 am
Mynda Smith was at the Las Vegas Community Healing Garden early Thursday to document the sun rising over the memorial honoring the victims of the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting.
Smith’s sister, Neysa Tonks, was killed in the massacre. Smith took photos and video at the downtown Las Vegas garden with plans to share the images online with loved ones of others slain on that horrific day, four years ago Friday.
“It’s a really important process for me to connect families who are out of state who don’t have the ability to come stop at the garden and see the beauty that has been done,” Smith said.
The Las Vegas resident’s personal act of remembrance was a prelude to many public events scheduled to unfold through Friday as the community honors the victims of the mass shooting that occurred on Oct. 1, 2017.
Fifty-eight people died initially as a gunman rained bullets from a hotel room at Mandalay Bay on the country music concert across the street, and hundreds more were injured. Two survivors later died from injuries suffered in the shooting.
The centerpiece of the tributes is the 1 October Sunrise Remembrance ceremony at 7 a.m. Friday at the Clark County Government Center Amphitheater, 500 S. Grand Central Parkway, in downtown Las Vegas. The event will feature music, the Southern Nevada Multiagency Honor Guard, a minute of silence for those lost, and remarks from Dee Ann Hyatt, sister of Kurt von Tillow, who died at the festival.
Another tribute will be the Reading of the Names ceremony at 10:05 p.m. Friday at the Las Vegas Community Healing Garden, 1015 S. Casino Center Blvd. The names of the victims will be read by Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman and David Riggleman, city communications director.
“It is a day of reflection,” Goodman said. “A day of continuing support for one another. It is a day to remember these beautiful, vital people who aren’t with us anymore. We can’t forget because the family and friends, colleagues, all remember. We lost so many precious people.”
The Golden Knights will hold a blood drive from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday outside City National Arena. Those who wish to participate are asked to make an appointment at donors.vitalant.org and enter the sponsor code “VGK.” The Knights also said that before the team’s Thursday night game against the Los Angeles Kings, team members will make appearances throughout Las Vegas and donate game tickets.
A 1 October Anniversary Exhibit is on display through Oct. 7 at the government center’s Rotunda Gallery. The display features quilts donated to the Vegas Strong Resiliency Center for this year’s quilt raffle for survivors of the shooting and family members who lost loved ones.
Many other events will be held through Friday in Southern Nevada and in California, home to many victims. A full list of events is available at the Resiliency Center’s events calendar on its website.
“It was really important to me that the Vegas Strong Day be Oct. 1, which is a way to honor that resiliency came from everyone,” Smith said. “The spirit that lifted each other up and got us all through it. I wouldn’t have made it through it without the light, the love that the people gave me. I hope that light and love tomorrow can be found and remembered, because that is what the blessing of that horrific day was — the love and the light that came from so many.”