Bronx residents remember victims of Happy Land fire

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THE BRONX -

Bronx residents are preparing for a memorial service next weekend to remember the 87 victims of the Happy Land fire.

The brutal fire happened 28 years ago on March 25.

Children took time out of their weekend to prep a monument for a memorial service that will happen next Sunday.

"I feel very badly because they had to go through that and it was really a difficult time for them," said Karen Maza, a student and volunteer.

Community Board 6 is organizing the event and is asking for volunteers to repaint the fences surrounding the monument.

The monument honors each victim with their names engraved in it.

"It also stresses the importance of fire prevention. Making sure that our houses and places of recreation are safe so that way students know this is real. This happened in our community and we can prevent it going forward," said John Sanchez, district manager of the community board.

Julio Gonzalez was convicted of arson and murder for igniting gasoline inside the social club following an argument with his girlfriend who worked there. His girlfriend survived the fire, but Happy Land lacked fire alarms, exits and sprinklers.

The organizer of the event and volunteers say that the fire should never be forgotten.

Gonzalez died several years ago in prison. He was serving 87 concurrent terms of 25 years to life.

The memorial service next Sunday will begin with Mass at St. Thomas Aquinas Church followed by a procession and candlelight vigil.

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