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Newtown observes Christmas amid signs of mourning

By The Associated Press

This article was published December 25, 2012 at 10:12 a.m.

file-in-this-wednesday-dec-19-2012-file-photo-christmas-stockings-with-the-names-of-shooting-victims-hang-from-railing-near-a-makeshift-memorial-near-the-town-christmas-tree-in-the-sandy-hook-village-of-newtown-conn-in-the-wake-of-the-shooting-the-grieving-town-is-trying-to-find-meaning-in-christmas-ap-photojulio-cortez-file

FILE - In this Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012 file photo, Christmas stockings with the names of shooting victims hang from railing near a makeshift memorial near the town Christmas tree in the Sandy Hook village of Newtown, Conn. In the wake of the shooting, the grieving town is trying to find meaning in Christmas. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

— Newtown observed Christmas amid snow-covered teddy bears, stockings, flowers and candles left in memorial to the 20 children and six educators gunned down at an elementary school just 11 days before the holiday.

The outpouring of support for this community continued through Christmas Eve, with visitors arriving at town hall with offerings of cards, handmade snowflakes and sympathy.

"We know that they'll feel loved. They'll feel that somebody actually cares," said Treyvon Smalls, a 15-year-old from a few towns away who arrived bearing hundreds of cards and paper snowflakes collected from around the state.

And on Christmas Day, out-of-town police officers were on duty to give police here a break.

"It's a nice thing that they can use us this way," Ted Latiak, a police detective from Greenwich, Conn., said Christmas morning, as he and a fellow detective, each working a half-day shift, came out of a store with bagels and coffee for other officers.

At St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church, which eight of the child victims of the massacre attended, the pastor told parishioners Tuesday at the second of four Masses that "today is the day we begin everything all over again."

Recalling the events at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, the Rev. Robert Weiss said: "The moment the first responder broke through the doors we knew good always overcomes evil."

"We know Christmas in a way we never ever thought we would know it," he said. "We need a little Christmas and we've been given it."

At the Trinity Episcopal Church, an overflow crowd of several hundred people attended Christmas Eve services. They were greeted by the sounds of a children's choir echoing throughout a sanctuary hall that had its walls decorated with green wreaths adorned with red bows.

The church program said flowers were donated in honor of Sandy Hook shooting victims, identified by name or as the "school angels" and "Sandy Hook families."

The service, which generally took on a celebratory tone, made only a few vague references to the shooting. Pastor Kathie Adams-Shepherd led the congregation in praying "that the joy and consolation of the wonderful counselor might enliven all who are touched by illness, danger, or grief, especially all those families affected by the shootings in Sandy Hook."

Police say the gunman, Adam Lanza, killed his mother in her bed before his rampage and committed suicide as he heard officers arriving. Authorities have yet to give a theory about his motive.

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