Ed’s Party Reminds Lockerbie of Disaster It Wants to Forget
LOCKERBIE, Scotland (AP) _ ″Ed’s Party,″ planned as a step toward getting on with life, brought some unwelcome notoriety Saturday to the town where Pan Am Flight 103 crashed.
″Let’s party 3/8″ said Ed Blaus, 14, of Sicklerville, N.J., for whom the event was named.
To some relatives of the 270 people killed by the terrorist bomb that felled the Boeing 747 on Dec. 21, a party seemed inappropriate, especially because of Pan Am’s involvement.
London’s Daily Telegraph called it ″a bizarre attempt to make up for the airliner disaster,″ leaving the town’s leaders defensive Saturday.
″Given the circumstances of this town, the party is unusual, but it is being supported by the vast majority of the local people, not to cause distress or anguish but to prove to themselves and the world that whereas we mourn those who died, they are determined to repair their town, rebuild shattered lives and ensure a special and sacred place in their hearts for 270 people from 24 nations,″ said Alex McElroy, chairman the local Community Support agency.
Response was enthusiastic, with families and groups of children heading toward the football ground as early as 9 a.m. for a day of hamburgers, hot dogs, bagpipes and rock bands in the sun. All wore red ″Ed’s Party″ badges to distinguish townspeople from reporters.
″This is their town and their party,″ McElroy told a news conference.
Pan Am was not represented.
Ed Blaus said he had written asking the airline to send Christmas presents to the children of Lockerbie.
The first he heard of a party, he said, was when Pan Am invited him, his parents and three brothers.
Moses Kungu, a Lockerbie pharmacist and regional councilor, said Pan Am raised the idea of a summer Christmas, but townspeople suggested the party instead.
″The idea is not Pan Am’s. It is from the community,″ Kungu said.
Joe Horgan of West Point, Pa., a member of the Victims of Pan Am 103 group, was quoted by The Dumfries and Galloway Standard as saying, ″It is good for them to have a party, but Pan Am’s involvement is despicable. We see this purely as a public relations exercise on their part.″
About 20 relatives and friends of victims gathered outside Pan Am’s New York headquarters Saturday to protest the airline’s role in the party.
″I’m outraged,″ said a tearful Florence Bissett, whose 21-year-old son, Kenneth, was killed in the bombing. ″How can they do something like that - picnic where bodies were found?″
Susan Cohen of Port Jervis, N.Y., said: ″We feel Pan Am should be putting its money into security, not parties.″
Scottish police say they believe the plane was blown apart by a bomb hidden in a radio-cassette player in the hold.
Complaints from relatives led the Disney Organization to cancel plans to send Mickey Mouse to the party, and the Hebrew National company decided against supplying hot dogs.
″The party doesn’t mean that we are going to forget what happened on Dec. 21, but everyone must remember that (it) is primarily for the children,″ said Elma Brockbank of Lockerbie.
″There is a feeling that perhaps the Americans haven’t thought enough about our children - after all, they were looking forward to meeting Mickey and Minnie Mouse,″ she said.
Kungu said children between 8 and 14 were affected most by the tragedy, especially in the Rosebank neighborhood where the plane’s engines jammed into the ground.
″Bodies were scattered all over the place. Children have seen that,″ he said.
Among special guests was Syracuse University football coach Dick McPherson, invited because several Syracuse University students died in the bombing.
″Why am I here? People are telling me that we can help,″ said McPherson, who brought helmets and other American football equipment to show the children.
″If they ask you to do something, if you don’t you’re damned, and if you do perhaps you’re damned as well,″ he said.
Alan Nicol, who brought his two children, said the party was ″a day for the children to remember and a day when everyone has got together on a happy occasion, when we can begin to put the past behind us.″