Funeral service, celebration of life to be held for Orlando massacre victim Edward Sotomayor

A funeral service and celebration of life will be held this weekend for Edward Manuel Sotomayor Jr., one of the victims of the massacre at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub — the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

The service for the 34-year-old Sarasota resident will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday in Robarts Arena, located at 3000 Ringling Boulevard, Sarasota.

“Join the family of Edward Sotomayor and the staff from ALandCHUCK.travel to celebrate his life as the incredibly loving, witty and magnetic personality he will always be remembered as,” read a post on the Facebook page of the gay travel agency, where Sotomayor was a national brand manager. “We will commemorate him for always living life to the fullest and on his own terms and for leaving every person and place better than he found them. With great love we honor our ‘Top Hat Eddie’ and hope that you will join us to do the same.”

Those wishing to speak at the memorial service are encouraged to send a request and what they would like to say to Memorial@ALandCHUCK.travel.

Immediately following the celebration of life, organizers welcome those who wish to join us them for St. Pete Pride and a candlelight walk for Sotomayor, which will take place 5 p.m.- 8 p.m. at King of Peace Metropolitan Community Church, 3150 5th Ave. N., St. Petersburg.

“We encourage everyone to join us for this special walk as we stand together in love and solidarity,” the post read, and asked that those who can bring a white candle and wear a white shirt and a black top hat (available at any party store).

Last Monday evening at a vigil in Sarasota that brought together more than 1,200 people, Jonathan Hall stood in front of Selby Public Library as a representative for the friends of Sotomayor.

“It’s hard to reflect on Eddie when you’re so used to him being here and reflect on a life cut short by yet another senseless act,” Hall said before a sea of candles in the growing darkness. “Forty-nine of our loved ones are gone today due to lack of love and compassion. Edward Manuel Sotomayor Jr., was the complete opposite. Eddie embodied love and compassion.”

Those wishing to donate to support Sotomayor’s family during this difficult time can visit the official GoFundMe campaign.

Amaris Castillo: 941-745-7051, @AmarisCastillo

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