Final preparations for massive memorial for Lakewood officers

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by KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on December 7, 2009 at 2:37 PM

Updated Tuesday, Dec 8 at 9:28 AM

Lakewood memorial procession route

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(Editor's note: We will carry live video of the memorial on air and online Tuesday, starting at 10 a.m.)

SEATTLE - The South Sound community is preparing to remember the four fallen Lakewood police officers, who were killed while getting ready for their day at a Parkland coffee shop.

Some 20,000 people are expected to attend Tuesday's memorial at the Tacoma Dome. It's something that would normally take weeks to prepare for.

With the procession passing right by his business, the owner of Lakewood hardware and paint says the only customers he's expecting are those watching the memorial.

"We have hot coffee for anyone that may get cold if they're watching outside," said Don Tyler.

The procession will make one stop at Lakewood police headquarters. The station has turned into the main memorial site. It is where family members of the four fallen officers and fellow Lakewood police officers will join the line of cars.

Kathy Holt is a retired police officer from Kent.  Lt. Lisa Price still works there. They say the shootings have shown them the support police have.

"To feel the emotions that are so raw was just overwhelming. I don't think I understood that as well as I do now," said Price.

They wanted to see this growing memorial because, on Tuesday, they'll be part of the procession.

"You feel the support as you're driving by in your car and all the people along there just paying their respects. It's overwhelming," said Holt.

The City of Tacoma is already swelling with visitors here for the memorial.

Concord, Minneapolis and Oakland – This is just a sampling of the many law enforcement agencies sending support across the miles.

"We are definitely sold out tonight and tomorrow reflects the same way - sold out," said Melvin Perez, Courtyard by Marriott Tacoma Downtown.

The Courtyard by Marriott is one of many hotels that are sold out or close to it. If you can find a spot, many hotels are making the trip easier by providing discounts to members of law enforcement. Managers say it's a good way for hotels to show their concern.

"Our hearts really go to the families of the fallen," said Perez.

Hotel staff members aren't the only ones working hard today in light of tomorrow's memorial.  There are other businesses with staff working to send so many well wishes.

"It's going to be a crazy day," said Ken Grassi, owner of Grassi's Florist and Gifts.

At Grassi's Florist and Gifts, extra staff were in early Monday. All hands are needed to finish the many arrangements that must be delivered to the Tacoma dome by late Monday afternoon.

"We're going to place the picture of the four officers here and then across the bottom in fresh flowers the individual letters (that spell) COURAGE," said Grassi.

Flowers are used to express what is sometimes too difficult to put into words. Grassi knows some of the feelings behind the flowers include hope, love and concern.

"This community is behind the families and they're going to love them and support them and encourage them to get through this in the weeks and the months ahead," said Grassi.

KING 5 has learned FBI Director Robert Mueller will attend Tuesday's memorial

Although the memorial is open to the public, there's little chance there will be room to get into the Tacoma Dome because so many officers are coming from around the nation. So there are now four overflow locations where the public can watch the service: at Pacific Lutheran University in the Olson Auditorium, the Christian Faith Center in Federal Way, The William Philips Hall on the University of Washington Tacoma campus and at Tacoma Champions Centre.
 

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