Church Hill Road in the center of Sandy Hook in Newtown, Connecticut was hustling and bustling on Saturday as efforts to organize a “cash mob” ultimately paid off and an influx of buyers paid in to the local economy. People from all over Connecticut came to downtown Sandy Hook to stimulate the local stores, whose businesses was negatively affected by the tragic events of Decemeber 14, 2012.
Breathtaking memorials sprang up throughout Newtown and Sandy Hook in the weeks after the shooting. Those paying their respects poured into the area and lavished these sites with an impressive amount of flowers, candles, stuffed animals, and various offerings of support. However, the media presence the sites attracted as well as the resulting gridlock traffic made the Sandy Hook area less than accessible to patrons of local businesses. The cash mob was organized to alleviate these financial hardships.
Most people participating in Saturday’s event found out about it through the internet, via email, or in a Facebook group. Many people mentioned We Are Newtown, an organization devoted to fundraising and goodwill for the Newtown community, and their Facebook page, while others said they heard about it on local television news programs. None of the dozen people I interviewed were from Newtown, and most had never been to Newtown before.
Melissa Tolmye, from Niantic, had never been to Sandy Hook but felt a connection with the community almost immediately upon her arrival. Even though she didn’t know anybody from the area, the similarities to her hometown of Niantic helped create an empathetic reaction.
“We were walking down the street for five minutes and as soon as we saw the signs, I actually just feel a lot of love for your town,” Tolmye said. “We don’t know you, but we really care. Our little town, Niantic, is very similar to this. A small New England town with independent businesses… There’s something very special about being here, and we’re here to show love and support as neighbors.”
Susan Reid, another cash mob participant, teaches in Suffield and had also never been to Sandy Hook before. During her brief time there, she was able to find common ground with a teacher from Sandy Hook Elementary School.
“It was great, we just had a meal and sat next to one of the teachers at the school,” Reid reflected. “We were able to talk about that a little bit and share some things about our school… it’s been wonderful.”
Southbury resident Steve Trinkaus had recently worked in Sandy Hook, designing a condo complex on Church Hill Road.
“It’s the least we can do,” he said. “You want to come out and help your neighbors.”
We Are Newtown stated the event was a success via their Facebook page: “Thanks to EVERYONE who came out today to make our cash mob such a success. Your support is inspiring.”.