Now missing for two months, the girl disappeared from her rural Barron home on the night of Oct. 15, when her parents, James and Denise Closs, were murdered.
The event was co-sponsored by Jennie-O Turkey Store, where Jayme’s parents worked, and the Barron Area School District.
Members of the Closs family were guests at the event. They expressed their gratitude for the community’s continued support, turned on the lights of a 16-foot tree put up across the street from the school, and were the first to light ceremonial floating lanterns in memory of James and Denise, and as a gesture of hope for Jayme. Scores of other lanterns were lighted by Jayme’s Riverview Middle School classmates.
Jim Snee, chief executive officer with Jennie-O’s parent company, Hormel Foods, of Austin, Minn., was one of the guest speakers. He said Hormel agreed to participate in the event to show that “the Barron community has an unbreakable spirit,” and that its hope for Jayme’s safe return “has not been dimmed.”
In its support for the Closs family and the investigation into Jayme’s disappearance, Snee said Hormel had made the decision to double the $25,000 reward offered in the days following Jayme’s Oct. 15 abduction, and to assist the Closs family with funeral expenses for James and Denise.
Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said the law enforcement officers in charge of the then-59-day-old investigation were “running on hope,” which took on a different meaning during a holiday season which, he said, “is a time to believe.”
“This (event) re-energizes us,” Fitzgerald added, while asking the community for its continued hope and prayers.