It was nearly a year ago when a gunman opened fire at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, killing three people and wounding many more.
On Sunday night community members gathered for a show of support on what would have been the final night of this year’s festival had it not been canceled due to the pandemic.
The shooting started at Christmas Hill park as people were packed in enjoying the last day of the Garlic Festival in 2019. While there is no festival this summer, the community still came together with people committed to showing that they are Gilroy Strong.
The sound from the shooting that day last year still haunts Lori Rollins.
“The sound was so loud,” Rollins said.
She said she immediately took off running to find her 14-year-old son Conner. She grabbed him and they hid. The shooting stopped but the chaos didn’t.
“It was like the movies,” she said. “A lot of people were running but they didn’t know which way to go.”
Nearly a year later the community held a moment of silence to remember the three people killed. Then they rang cowbells to celebrate their resilient community.
The event by Leadership Gilroy helped raise money to make the community even stronger.
“We wanted to help out local non-profits who are usually helped during the festival,” said Jennifer Fontino, an event organizer.
Across Gilroy people gathered in small groups, an important sense of community for people who say the annual festival is part of their DNA.
“We haven’t missed a festival ever,” said resident Nellie Arzola. “We’ve been taking our kids since they were young.”
The group did their best to re-create the festival food, serving garlic scampi, garlic fries and pepper steak sandwiches.
This year, instead of flames roasting garlic treats at Gourmet Alley, an Aztec group performed a memorial dance.