DULUTH — A small group gathered around the small free library in the front yard of the Barry family home, draping Christmas lights and hanging decorations on a downright dreary Saturday afternoon.

The weather seemed to match the collective vibe of the town since the family of four were found killed by a relative. But neighbors, friends and strangers gathered to hold a community vigil scheduled for Sunday evening outside the house, 715 E. 12th St.

“We hope it will be a nice environment to remember and maybe heal,” said Thor Pakosz. “Granted, we can’t bring the family back, but maybe we can focus on the good experiences we’ve had with them.”

Flowers rest near the base of a small free library in the front yard of the Barry House Saturday, April 23, 2022 in Duluth.

Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

Pakosz knew the Barry family – Sean, Riana, Shiway and Sadie – as part of a close-knit homeschooling community in the city. He said there had been a “heartwarming response to this sad experience”.

“They were very genuine and very caring and they made a very positive contribution to those who knew them and to the community,” Pakosz said.

Organizers said the family particularly enjoyed the Christmas season and volunteers came out to decorate the house with Christmas lights. Neighbors were pitching in, offering power outlets so more lights could be hung across the block. A fan of flowers sat at the base of the front yard library.

Community members gather to light up the Barry House in the East Hillside neighborhood of Duluth
Britt Hoover and Mike Schlangen, both of Duluth, wrap lights on a handrail at Barry’s home Saturday, April 23, 2022 in Duluth. The family of four were killed in a murder-suicide earlier this week and community members are decorating the house with lights in memory of the family.

Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

Amanda Hoover couldn’t remember exactly when she first met the Barry family, but they knew each other from homeschooling. Families tend to come together for occasional gatherings, participating in activities such as roller skating, Hoover said.

“We connected, talked and chatted,” she said. “We learned more about each other and our lives.”

Melissa Boyle, who lives nearby, brought a pair of plastic snowmen and Christmas tree decorations to attach to either side of the bookcase, along with battery-powered tealights to light up the books inside. interior.

Organizers said the Barrys were avid readers and enjoyed sharing their love of books with their neighbors.

Community members gather to light up the Barry House in the East Hillside neighborhood of Duluth
Pete Ravinski and Mike Schlangen, both of Duluth, add lights to the Barry House Free Little Library on Saturday, April 23, 2022 in Duluth. The family of four were killed in a murder-suicide earlier this week and community members are decorating the house with lights in memory of the family.

Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

“I would pass by here on my way to church,” said Boyle, who has lived in the area for 20 years. “I used to see the kids walking their dogs, and I remember when they put up the little free library. It’s such a quiet little part of Hillside.”

The vigil is Sunday at 8 p.m., with the 700 block of East 12th Street set to close to traffic at 6 p.m. Participants are encouraged to bring children’s books to donate in honor of the family.

Members of the public are also encouraged to display Christmas lights on their own homes in memory of the family.

Community members gather to light up the Barry House in the East Hillside neighborhood of Duluth
Duluth’s Thor Pakosz unravels a light show at the Barry’s home on Saturday, April 23, 2022 in Duluth. The family of four were killed in a murder-suicide earlier this week and community members are decorating the house with lights in memory of the family.

Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune