Saturday, February 21, 2009

February 20

Six years ago on February 20, a bar in West Warwick, Rhode Island went down in history for one of the deadliest nightclub fires in history. When Great White (think Once Bitten, Twice Shy) started playing to a packed crowd of over 450 people at The Station it took seconds for their pyrotechnics to engulf the place in flames. When it was all over, 100 people were killed, including a band member and over 200 people injured. A night burned in the memory of everyone from West Warwick, as for the rest of us, to feed our macabre curiosity, there’s footage of the night we can watch over and over again.

One image that’s stuck in my mind didn’t happen that night... but afterwards. It has to do with the makeshift memorial which is the empty lot where The Station once was. One night, a few months after the fire, two guys and two girls pulled out wood from the surviving floorboards of the club and made crosses, one hundred of them.

Originally they were all blank, so people who lost loved ones could choose a cross and decorate them as they saw fit. Some have pictures, beads, stuffed animals, notes and other things; all but five of the crosses have been claimed. It’s not a pretty or well-made site; it’s just an empty lot with hand made crosses and a green dumpster keeping watch. There are lawn chairs scattered throughout the Station graveyard, where survivors still, six years later, gather regularly to party with their long lost friends.
The Station Fire Foundation has been trying to get a permanent memorial put up for three years now. I just hope when it’s finally done, they’ll find room for the lawn chairs.
“Drink To Me Drink To My Health
You Know I Can't Drink Any More.” Picasso’s last words

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