On June 12 of last year, tragedy struck Orlando in the form of an attack on Pulse Nightclub, a local gathering space for members of the LGBT community. That night, 49 lives were lost just blocks away from Kimco’s Sodo Shopping Center, forever changing the community around us.

The entire city of Orlando rallied together to help out as much at it could. In the days that followed, Sodo acted as a means of support for the emergency responders, offering a space to cool down and grab some water, and even using our social media pages as a space to update the community on road closures and other news.

Afterwards, Sodo honored the victims in several ways, such as creating our “Rainbow Roundabout” at the center of the property, hosting a vigil for the victims, and participating in the #KeepDancingOrlando tribute, which celebrated those who lost their lives while dancing.

The rainbow roundabout from above in 2016

Although a year has passed, this tragedy continues to resonate throughout the Orlando area, Kimco, and the tenants that make up Sodo Shopping Center, where we once again rallied with our community to honor the victims of the nightclub shooting. This year, we participated in the Orlando United Day Acts of Love and Kindness campaign, during which Kimco employees shared how they planned to act, love, or give within the community. Some of their answers included references to friends, family, or particular causes they felt passionate about.

Charlene R., Spencer P., and Michelle A. participate in Acts of Love and Kindness

Given our proximity, the City of Orlando asked if Sodo’s parking facilities could be used by those visiting the Pulse memorial site on the one-year anniversary. Starbucks gave away over 300 free drinks to those parked at the center and One Blood hosted a blood drive on the way to the memorial.

The rainbow roundabout commemorating the victims is gone, but with the one-year anniversary of the tragedy approaching, we looked for a new opportunity to represent and remember the lives lost. We decided on a new installation: a series of 49 kites in various colors of the rainbow, strung above the center, which will stay for 49 days to honor the 49 victims. The installation, called “Dancing Kites,” was completed in early June, and is accompanied by a sign that says “Keep Dancing,” as a reference to the #KeepDancingOrlando campaign of last year.

The new installation, containing 49 rainbow flags for the 49 lives lost

Tragedies like the Pulse shooting can shake a community, but we are honored to continue to uphold the memories of those who died, and hope that the campaign to spread love, instead of hate, will resonate with anyone, anywhere that needs it.