BY TOM DALTON
---- — SALEM — A large crowd is expected tonight for a candlelight vigil on Salem Common in support of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing.
A “last mile” run will begin at 6:45 p.m. in honor of all those affected by the attacks during the last mile of Monday’s marathon.
Participants are being encouraged to wear their favorite Boston gear to walk or run one mile around Salem Common. Runners and first responders are invited to lead the run.
The Paul Madore Chorale will lead the crowd in song, and the Salem Veterans Council will pass out American flags. A limited number of candles will be distributed, so participants are being encouraged to bring their own candles.
There will be a brief speaking program and candlelight walk at 7:15 p.m. starting from the Salem Common gazebo.
“I think people are trying to find an outlet for their feelings, and coming together as a community seems like a good way to start,” Mayor Kim Driscoll said.
Driscoll set up an event page on Facebook, where people can indicate whether they are coming; by late last night, more than 800 people had responded that they plan to participate.
The vigil is a joint effort by the city, Parents United of Salem, the Salem YMCA, the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Salem, the Salem Chamber of Commerce, Salem State University, the Salem No Place for Hate Committee, the Wicked Running Club, the No Rest for the Wicked Weekly 5K Run and the North Shore Road Race Guide.
There will be a large banner for participants to sign, which will be sent to Boston Mayor Tom Menino.
“One thing about Boston,” Driscoll said, “we all feel a part of it.”
In related news, the Salem Five has established funds for the Woolfenden family of Salem and the Richard family of Dorchester.
Stephen Woolfenden, 38, and his young son were injured in the blast while watching for Amber Woolfenden, Stephen’s wife and the boy’s mother, to cross the finish line. Bill Richard, a 1988 graduate of Salem High, is the father of Martin Richard, the 8-year-old Dorchester boy killed on Monday.
Donations can be sent to the Salem Five (Attn. Richard Family Fund or Woolfenden Family Fund), 201 Essex St., Salem, MA 01970.
Stephen Woolfenden is a patient at Boston Medical Center, where his condition was upgraded yesterday from “critical” to “serious.” His son reportedly was taken to Children’s Hospital, which is not releasing patient information.
Tom Dalton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.