Clear Night, Bright Candles: A Memorial And Vigil For Denver’s Homeless

<p>Hart Van Denburg/CPR News</p>
<p>Father Michael J. Nicosia, vicar to the Rocky Mountain region of the Ecumenical Catholic Communion, holds a lantern while taking part in the the 29th Homeless Person’s Memorial Vigil at the City and County building in Denver Friday Dec. 21, 2018.</p> <p> </p>

Cradling candles and huddled in warm coats and hats on Friday evening, dozens of people gathered in front of the City and County building in downtown Denver for the 29th Homeless Person’s Memorial Vigil. As the names of those who perished on the streets were read aloud, those in attendance joined together to say, "We will remember."

The gathering was organized by the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, which estimates that at least 233 people died this past year so far while homeless, said spokeswoman Meredith Ritchie. "They probably may have not had a funeral themselves," she said. "This is the chance that we as community members can come together and honor their lives and experiences."

According to the coalition, an estimated 1,348 people experiencing homelessness have died since 2008 -- on the streets, under bridges, in emergency rooms and shelters. Drug overdose was the top cause, followed by blunt force trauma. Eight people died as the result of hypothermia.

Michael Elizabeth Sakas contributed to this report.