ORLANDO, Fla. — Thousands of people gathered along the shores of Lake Eola Monday evening to remember the 49 people who were killed in the Pulse nightclub attack one year ago.
"No matter what, hate can never win. Only love," said Joel Nieves, who attended the event.
Nieves decided at the last minute not to go to Pulse the night of the terror attack, but some of his friends did go.
He said he has watched them deal with the pain ever since.
Hear what residents say drew them to the tribute below:
"What one man did to try and break us only made us stronger and made us come together even more. So again, his hate only became our love," said Nieves.
Many who attended had had a rough year. Some lost loved ones, others lost friends, and several lost their sense of security.
"I felt scared to go outside. I felt scared for a month to go to a club. My mother didn't even want me going out," said Justin Rivera.
Rivera said that fear eventually faded--and pride prevailed. He came out to his family the week of the terror attack and introduced them to his fiance.
"This actually made me more realistic to life and what it means as a whole, everyone's place in this world. It opened my eyes," he said.
The lakeside vigil was scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at downtown Orlando's Lake Eola Park. But due to rain, the vigil started closer to 7:30 p.m.
It is one of many events planned for Orlando United Day during which residents are encouraged to commit acts of love and kindness.
So much love around Lake Eola & throughout Orlando. What a beautiful way to honor our 49 neighbors taken too soon. @WFTV #orlandoUnited pic.twitter.com/ZdEOEhY6I1— Lauren Seabrook (@LSeabrookWFTV) June 12, 2017
Grammy award-winning pop singer Olga Tañón, Central Florida native Sisaundra Lewis and the Orlando Gay Chorus provided musical performances during the tribute.
The program was emceed by Channel 9 anchors Jorge Estevez and Nancy Alvarez. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and Pulse nightclub owner Barbara Poma delivered remarks.
"We have your back. No matter what. Orlando loves you. Orlando loves you. Orlando loves you," said Dyer.
Some danced in front of an emotional staff of Pulse, united by Poma.
"The love and support has not stopped showing up, that's how we know there's more good than bad."
One Love Orlando #OrlandoStrong #OrlandoUnitedDay pic.twitter.com/OoPjZq7Vic— WFTV Channel 9 (@WFTV) June 12, 2017
Artwork was on display at the Washington Square Plaza section of the park.
Watch below: Doctors from Orlando Health discuss the night of the Pulse shooting:
Cox Media Group