In most cases, noted Julie Menin, chair of Community Board 1, coordinating an event that involves hundreds of volunteers and thousands of participants in Downtown Manhattan would take roughly a year to plan. Menin and CB1, however, have managed to organize such an event, “Hand in Hand: Remembering 9/11,” in the span of six weeks, with more than a little help from New York City organizations and companies.
Hand in Hand, Menin explained, provides an opportunity for all New Yorkers—not just those directly affected by the terrorist attacks—to participate in commemorating the 10th anniversary of 9/11.
“The motto [of Hand in Hand] is to reflect, remember and unite—the idea behind it being that, on the 10th anniversary, this is a time to reflect and remember the lives of those who were lost, and to harken back to that unity that existed in the days and weeks after 9/11,” Menin explained. “This is a chance to remember what unites us as New Yorkers and not what divides us.”
On Saturday, Sept. 10, the day before the anniversary, at 8:46 a.m.—the exact time the first plane hit the North Tower—thousands of citizens along the western waterfront of Downtown Manhattan will lock hands for a moment of silence, then join together in song. The song selection is up to the participants, who will be emailed a choice of four songs including John Lennon’s “Imagine.”
Afterward, people are invited to go to Battery Park, where Menin has arranged for the Port Authority to fabricate boards for a Wall of Remembrance. Participants are invited to post a note or memento there, and a portion of the wall will become part of the permanent exhibition of the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum.
Later in the day, the public is invited to volunteer at a number of community projects. The activities include garden maintenance at The Urban Farm in Battery Park, art projects on the themes of peace, tolerance and unity at The Door on Broome Street and painting a mural at Pier 25, among others. (A full list of projects can be found at the Hand in Hand website, under the volunteer tab.)
Eventage, a West Village-based production company that oversees the New York City marathon, donated hundreds of hours to plan the event and will have 17 staff members on site on the day. New York Cares pitched in by agreeing to find between 200 and 300 volunteers to staff events. Sam Schwartz Engineering helped prepare the route on a pro bono basis and Nautica donated 5,000 T-shirts with the Hand in Hand logo imprinted on it.
As of last week, over 2,000 people had registered for the event, with roughly 5,000 expected to have registered to participate by Saturday morning.
Companies, organizations and families have registered as groups to hold hands together in one section of the chain, while many others have signed up as individuals, a fact Menin finds particularly inspiring.
“The idea of Hand in Hand is very iconic, I think. It is the idea that you will find people holding hands with strangers. Again, it goes back to the days after 9/11,” Menin said, “when you lent a hand to a stranger in need. I think that is a very important part of the concept: We are all united.”
Although free to the public, Menin stressed that participants must register. To register for Hand in Hand, visit www.handinhand911.org/register-now.
Registered participants will receive an email with their assigned check-in station, and check-in stations will be open from 7:30 to 8:15 a.m. on Saturday.
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