While somber, the annual gathering at the fire site took on a more hopeful tone this year than in years past because a foundation set up to build a permanent memorial secured ownership of the site in September after years of trying. On Sunday, the Station Fire Memorial Foundation released final plans for the memorial.
They call for a 30-foot-high entrance gate topped by an Aeolian harp. Wind passing through the harp will create music, a reminder that it was music that brought people together that night.
The permanent memorial will include an individual memorial for each person who died and commemorate the survivors, first responders and those who helped care for families of the dead and survivors in the weeks and months after the fire. It will also include a pavilion as a gathering place.
Families are being asked to remove the crosses and other personal mementos that have been left at the site at the makeshift memorial that has developed over the years. The items left behind will be buried in a capsule under an area that is now the parking lot. There will be no digging on the land under where the club once stood because of the fear of disturbing human remains.
While many of the materials and labor to build the memorial will be donated, foundation officials say they need to raise $1 million to $2 million to build and maintain it.
The foundation hopes to break ground in the spring. Construction of the memorial could take one to two years.
Gina Russo, who was badly burned in the fire and whose fiancé was killed, is president of the foundation and said the memorial would turn the site into something beautiful.
"It's a happy moment going forward," she said.