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Hundreds of people gather at prayer vigil for victims of R.M. Palmer explosion

West Reading residents gathered with first responders and victims' families to grieve as a community.

WEST READING, Pa. — One week after the explosion that leveled the R.M. Palmer Company chocolate factory, the community came together in mourning. 

Hundreds of people gathered at the West Reading Fire Department for a candlelight vigil dedicated to the seven workers who lost their lives.

“It’s important to let the company and victim’s families know that we’re also here," said community member Ty Gardner.

“This is all a community of love; this isn’t about anything else," said supporter Karen Lacki.

Long-time employees of R.M. Palmer greeted the families of the victims at the Bethany Lutheran Church before the vigil. Stephanie Caswell said everyone throughout Reading has rallied together, as the company goes through its most difficult week.

“The firefighters, policeman and everyone in the community," said Caswell, who has worked at R.M. Palmer for 19 years. "We’re so proud of them, so proud. We couldn’t do it without all these people.”

“You see the best of our community and the best of our country," added Gardner. "When it hits the fan, everybody is able to put [their] differences aside to come together and that’s a powerful thing.”

Songs of grace echoed through the streets of West Reading and hundreds of candles illuminated the night sky as part of the vigil. The service allowed the West Reading community to make the first steps towards healing and showed the Commonwealth it stands Palmer Strong.

“To be able to come together and close that door a little bit and be able to move forward is important," said Gardner.

“It’s going to be okay. As long as we pull together, it’s going to be okay," said Caswell.

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