ORLANDO – While the Pulse nightclub remains closed after 49 people were killed there in a shooting rampage earlier this month, hundreds of Orlando residents came out for a fund-raiser for the victims’ families and nightclub employees who were left without a job.
The party, “Latin Night for Pulse,” took over Washington Street between Summerlin and Hill Avenues on Thursday, roughly two and half miles away from the Pulse nightclub. The street was lined with police as crowds danced to Latin music.
As the site of the worst mass shooting in U.S. history is replaced with a memorial and nearby businesses begin to reopen, owner Barbara Poma faces difficult decisions regarding the legacy of Pulse.
She’s not sure when, and she’s not sure where, but she hopes the club will reopen.
“It’s my hope, my dream,” Poma said.
Pulse is now more than just a club for Orlando’s gay community, and it holds a special place in her heart. Poma opened it as a tribute to her brother, John, who died from HIV in 1991.
“Pulse was a way for me to not let my brother’s death be in vain,” she said. “It was a way for me to carry him with me forever and be part of the community that he loved so much and raised me in.”
Several of the employees who were there the night of the attack worked at the event. Their solidarity was reflected in matching pulse tattoos — a symbol in memory of the victims and place that brought them together.
“I think we find comfort in each other,” said Poma at the event. “I think sometimes people are holding me up and sometimes I’m holding them up.”