The township of Barnegat is making preparations for the funeral of one of its most beloved residents this week.
Possibly close to 1,000 people, young and old, but mostly young, turned up for a candlelight vigil for Kyle McGetrick, 12, who passed away last week, after a seven-year battle with leukemia. Now the township is gearing up for another large crowd of mourners and well-wishers who, officials say, will likely once again turn up in large numbers at the young boy's wake and funeral today and tomorrow.
The wake will take place at Shinn's Funeral Home, at 10 Hilliard Drive in Manahawkin, from 2 to 4 p.m. and from 7 to 9 p.m. tomorrow, May 10.
A special firefighter ceremony, organized by the Barnegat Volunteer Fire Company, is planned for 8 p.m., when John Cowie, the past president and current trustee of the fire company will deliver a eulogy for Kyle.
"We'll probably do a bell ringing ceremony symbolizing the last call," said Gary Brown, president of the Barnegat Volunteer Fire Company.
On Friday, May 11, the funeral mass will commence at 11 a.m. at the St. Mary's Parish in Barnegat, 747 West Bay Avenue, prior to which the fire company will bring Kyle's body from the funeral home into the church on a fire truck, Brown said.
"We’re going to have all fire apparatus from outside of Barnegat will be staging on Bayview Avenue," Brown said. "We're going to have two school buses shuttling firefighters from the staging area to the church."
Once the ceremony concludes at around noon, Kyle will be taken in the fire company's 1121 engine on a procession past the Lillian M. Dunfee School where Kyle was a student, then past the McGetrick residence on Village Drive, to the firehouse on Birdsall Street.
“At that point, all apparatus from outside of Barnegat will join the procession and we’re going to proceed down Route 9 South to the Memorial Park, where the final ceremonies will take place.”
Both the viewing events on Thursday and Friday's funeral are open to the public, though the final funeral ceremony at the Memorial Park is for members of the McGetrick family, close friends of Kyle, the Barnegat firefighters, the Barnegat Police and the Barnegat EMS.
PARKING AND OTHER ARRANGEMENTS
The township is making special parking arrangements for the Thursday night's viewing, which fire officials expect to be the busiest.
"The township will provide buses to assist in satisfying transportation needs, police for traffic and crowd control along with tables and chairs necessary to accommodate the anticipated turnout," Barnegat Administrator David Breeden said. "Regardless of the size of the crowd, the township has the ability to effectively manage traffic and crowds that turn out for the services."
Those attending the viewing in Barnegat after 6:30 p.m. on Thursday are asked to park at the Southern Regional High School parking lot. School buses will be shuttling attendees back and forth to and from the funeral home 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.
On Friday morning, people can park at the Municipal Dock parking lot from where the school buses can also shuttle people as needed.
Brown also said the Barnegat High School is working with St. Mary's Church to set up a sound system outside the facility, to accomodate all those turning out to hear the words in Kyle's rememberance.
"We don't want people to come and not even be able to listen to the ceremony," Brown said.
HELPING HANDS AND FINAL WORDS
The entire township is involved in planning the events of the next two days in Kyle's honor, even though some officials said they are wary of turning the funeral into a "media circus" or taking credit for their involvement at all.
"There are so many people that have been supportive this entire week not just of Kyle’s family but also the fire company," Brown said. "We have received tremendous support from the school system and the superintendent, several establishments in town donating items, other agencies, the police and the EMS just donating their time for anything that’s needed.”
Many officials involved in the arrangements had expressed reluctance to be acknowledged for their help, saying they did not want to take the spotlight away from Kyle and his grieving family, just help out and pay their respects.
The Barnegat Township Committe is planning to be at the wake on Thursday night, Mayor Alfonso Cirulli said.
"I know the family didn't want to turn it into a media circus," Cirulli said. "The fire department volunteers are really the ones running this. They are the ones coordinating with the police department. They wanted to try to keep at least some of it as private as possible."
Cirulli said he didn't want to take any credit for anything, just offer quiet help wherever needed.
"We don't want to turn it into a political thing," he said. "So, whatever we can do to help the family, we will. Kyle was a special kid. He left a good legacy."
"We are only doing what any school or other organization would do when someone is in need," said Superintendent of the Barnegat Schools Karen Wood. "We don't deserve any credit for anything. He was one of our kids."
"Technically, Kyle may have been a student, but he left us as one of the greatest teachers, both in and out of the classroom," the President of the Barnegat Board of Education Lisa Becker wrote to Patch in a statement on behalf of the school board on the day after Kyle's passing last week. "Kyle taught us all, young and old alike, the meaning of fortitude, courage and honor - and he lived in the presence of the days he enjoyed."