garlic festival shooting

‘Live Life and Enjoy It': Garlic Festival Shooting Survivors Continue to Move Forward

NBC Bay Area

For witnesses of the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting, getting back to normal has been a long process.

Many businesses were at the festival and for one of them, it has been an incredibly difficult and emotional past year.

"It's hard," said Cheryl Low, The Honey Ladies operations manager. "There are really hard days. Something will happen and it will click -- when I hear a loud noise. Fireworks were not good this year."

Low and her sister, Candice Marquez, were working at the Gilroy Garlic Festival last July when they witnesses the shooting just a few feet away. Their strength is now inscribed on their arms with a "Gilroy Strong" tattoo.

"Having my sister there really helps," Low said. "We can talk about it. We were both there at the same time so we know what we're talking about when we have issues."

The sisters came out of the bathroom and saw the gunman as he opened fire toward their family and friends at The Honey Ladies stand.

"We both took off running, but as he picked [the gun] up he went toward our tent. My granddaughter was there and the baby. Somehow I lost [my sister] and she lost me. I don't remember anything until I saw the kids," Low said. "It was the worst feeling ever. I didn't hear any shots. I didn't hear any people talking until I found the two kids."

The kids were not hurt.

But in that tent was the owner of The Honey Ladies, Wendy Towner. She and her husband were badly wounded.

NBC Bay Area spoke to Towner in the hospital last August two weeks before she was released.

"I have no idea how many surgeries each one of us have had, but many," Towner said at the time.

And while Towner did not want to talk for this report, the sisters quickly went back to their routines.

"The first festival we did after the shooting was really hard," Low said.

Marquez said "some days are tougher than others, and it makes me more aware of my surroundings and everything."

The sisters are back to working at farmers markets and out of The Honey Ladies main store in Campbell.

There are now new challenges during the pandemic.

"Online sales have been really great for us," Low said. "We just lost a lot of our farmers markets and no festivals this year, which really hurt our business."

But they persist and move forward, overcoming fears they sometimes have just leaving the house to get back to what they love making the world a little sweeter.

"Live life and try to enjoy it and don't let things scare you," Marquez said.

"I think yeah, we made it through, and we're doing OK, mentally and physically," Low added.

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