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The Daily Tar Heel

Carrboro Remembers 9/11 Victims With Flowers

Festival part of national 5,000 flowers project

Anyone captivated enough by the sound to approach the market saw belly dancers mingling with the crowd, moving their hips rhythmically to the music.

And anyone who walked up to the table where children crafted flowers out of colorful tissue paper discovered the larger project behind the festivities.

The event was held as a communitywide reception for the 5,000 Flowers Project, a nationwide commemoration of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Two New Mexican artists conceived the idea, which uses flower images to symbolize the lives lost in the attacks. Hunter Levinsohn, a community member acquainted with the artists, teamed up with organizers Anke Gassen, Jackie Helvey-Hayes and Debbie Meyer to bring the project to Carrboro.

Helvey-Hayes owns, a Web site she started in 1996, which she used as a vehicle to publicize the 5,000 Flowers Project.

"We are here because we all have felt the stirrings to respond in some fashion to the terrible tragedy which changed how we view and define the world around us," Gassen said. "The response to the 5,000 Flowers has shown us where this community's heart is."

Carrboro Mayor Mike Nelson spoke at the event, thanking those who contributed to the project. "It's a way for people to express their anger and grief and sadness," he said.

Hollie Novak, an art teacher at Grey Culbreth Middle School, encouraged local schools to become involved in the project, which yielded 10,000 flower images from the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools alone.

"I love the community feeling to it," she said about the gathering at Weaver Street Market. "It's sort of bringing our community closer together."

The event featured music by local band HeJazz and free massages by the Carolina Emergency Response Massage Team Inc. which traveled to New York to perform massages on workers at Ground Zero.

Amy Schaich, a belly dancer from the Triangle-based Belly Revelations, said she was excited about dancing for the 5,000 Flowers Project and and recognizing Sept. 11.

"I want to remember what we can create together and not what is destroyed."

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