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Community creates moving tribute to Hazel Roy

On Halloween night Peter (PJ) Roy, wife Charleen and their little girl Elodie posed before a massive display of pumpkins that arrived in downtown Bristol in honor of their daughter Hazel. Besides filling the bleachers, pumpkins also lined the sidewalks on the eastern portion of Central Square and were enjoyed by all the trick-or-treaters as they made their way through town.(Photo by Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
November 04, 2021
BRISTOL – Halloween in downtown Bristol was an extra special event this year, with scarecrows, dancing witches, candy dropped from the fire department's ladder truck, a haunted house at the Masonic Lodge and, new this year, more than 200 pumpkins lining the town green in honor of young Hazel Roy of Bristol, who passed away in August at the age of four.

Hazel was a bright light in the world who loved costumes, dancing, Peppa the Pig and the movie "Frozen." Her parents, mom Charleen and dad Peter (PJ), didn't want to see that light snuffed out however so they started on a mission to have pumpkins light up downtown Bristol on Halloween in honor of their fun-loving young daughter.

"She really did light up the room wherever she went," said her grandfather Rich Roy.

The Town of Bristol's Events Committee heard of their idea to have pumpkins in the square and worked with town officials and the Highway Dept. to have bleachers placed on the town green for the pumpkins. While mom Charleen expected perhaps fifty pumpkins to be in place Sunday afternoon, she arrived downtown that day to find the bleachers already filling up.

"It's overwhelming! I'm very grateful," was all she could say at the time.

The Newfound community and even beyond was not done yet, however. Word had spread about Hazel's Light, as the event was being called, and a steady stream of pumpkins continued to arrive from towns throughout central New Hampshire. The Roy family, their extended family and friends, soon lost count after nearly 190 pumpkins were dropped off by 4 p.m., and the final estimate showed more than 200 pumpkins not only filling the bleachers, but lining sidewalks throughout the square.

The outpouring of support from those who came out to honor her granddaughter also overwhelmed both Charleen's mom, Annette Roberge, and PJ's mom, Cheryl Levesque.

"It's heartwarming to see a community come together like this," Levesque said.

Roberge, Levesque, Rich Roy and other family members also found support for Hazel's Light from their hometowns in the Concord and Hooksett regions. The businesses they work for even allowed pumpkin carving time for their employees and friends contributed special carved pumpkins, too, all in Hazel's honor.

Among the multitude of pumpkins were many with Hazel's name. Others were carved with hearts, butterflies, bunny rabbits, angels and even Elsa and Peppa Pig, two of Hazel's favorite characters.

Looking over the multitude of pumpkins glowing in the dark, dad PJ tried to decide which ones he enjoyed the most but it was a really tough call.

"There's just so many of them. It's hard to say which I like best," he said. "I really do like seeing all the Peppa Pig pumpkins though. She had his voice down so well, right down to the British accent."

Carvings of a little girl with angels, bunny rabbits and butterflies really touched his heart however and he appreciated each of them just as much.

"I can't believe how creative these all are. They're amazing! I also can't believe the community we have here and I can't thank everyone enough for doing this," PJ said.

Besides the event being a tribute to Hazel, there were also pumpkins honoring other children who died far too young. Among them was a pumpkin for a child named Adalyn whose mom now makes bunny rabbits for grieving parents like the Roy family. Adalyn's pumpkin was appropriately carved with a bunny. Others acknowledged through brightly lit jack-o-lanterns were Izzy, Jessica, Noah, Fox and Kyara.

With scarecrows spread across the green in front of the massive pumpkin display, the scene was so attention-getting that it quickly became a popular stop for photos of little ones along with "selfies" by the older crowd.

At the end of the night, Charleen, PJ, their parents and friends each selected pumpkins that were especially meaningful to them, while the rest were loaded into pick-up trucks to help feed local farm animals.

The entire family also wished to extend their gratitude to the Town of Bristol and all who took part in making Hazel's Light shine bright this Halloween.

Martin Lord & Osman
Salmon Press
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