WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Members of Thalian Association Children’s Theater Leadership Program hosted a tree lighting ceremony this evening to honor Josh Proutey as the anniversary of his murder nears.
“I believe in healing through performance, taking the gifts that the kids have, singing, dancing, acting, and taking that and using that to help heal our community,” TACT Program Director Jonathan Graves said.
It’s been nearly one year since Proutey, 19, was shot and killed outside the Community Arts Center after locking up for the night.
“The first weekend after Josh’s tragic death, we arrived one morning, and this tree was here, and it was about half that size (that it is now). It was this little tree. It was a miracle,” Thalian Association Managing Director Susan Habas said.
Thursday that tree became the centerpiece of a tribute to Proutey by the TACT Leadership Program. The group of kids eight to 18 is working with Wilmington Police to produce a new video on gun awareness and safety they hope to show in area schools.
“One of the things that the police department expressed is they really didn’t have video to reach out to young people, so our tact leadership team took hold of that and said, ‘You know, this is something that we would like to do,'” Graves said.
Habas says it was the students who initiated the video and the tree lighting ceremony to honor Proutey.
“The children are the ones who came up with the idea for the tree lighting ceremony, and I think that just speaks volumes of the children that are involved with Thalian Association Children’s Theater,” Habas said.
Now this tight knit community is coming together to honor Proutey this holiday season and for years to come.
Tonight after the tree-lighting, was the opening of TACT’s staging of “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.” Performances continue through Sunday.