CALGARY — Bubbles floated into a grey sky and sparklers crackled as hundreds gathered in a northwest Calgary park Sunday evening to pay tribute to Sara Baillie and her five-year-old daughter Taliyah Marsman.
Baillie's close friends organized the vigil nearly a week after the 34-year-old woman was found dead in her home and an Amber Alert was issued for the little girl.
Police found Taliyah's body late Thursday in a rural area just east of Calgary.
Jennifer Vonavka described Baillie, her long-time friend, as a hard-working, fun-loving woman with "out-of-this-world'' dance moves.
Mourners embrace at a vigil for Sara Baillie and her daughter, Taliyah Marsman. (Photo: CP)
Vonavka said Baillie would have appreciated the choice of venue for the vigil.
"She would have wanted to be celebrating somewhere happy and that's what parks are for. Parks are for families,'' she said.
Vonavka recalled hanging out with Baillie at a bus stop across from the park after a party when they were teenagers.
It's also around the corner from a Dairy Queen that Baillie and Taliyah liked to visit — the same one where security cameras captured the pair a day before Baillie failed to show up to her restaurant job and worried relatives called police.
'For you, baby girl'
Sunday's event began with organizers handing out candles and bottles of bubbles with Baillie and Taliyah smiling on the labels.
The group said the Lord's Prayer with their heads bowed.
Then, a toast.
"For you, baby girl,'' one woman said as she popped the cork of a bottle of bubbly, unleashing a torrent of fizzy liquid.
Mourners gather at a vigil for Calgary homicide victims Sara Baillie and her five-year-old daughter Taliyah Marsman, in Calgary on Sunday. (Photo: CP)
Children were asked to gather together to light sparklers and cheer for Taliyah.
Tanya Kruger, Taliyah's godmother, said it was a fitting way to remember her friend, whom she met working at a Boston Pizza about a decade ago.
"She was a happy-go-lucky, loving, amazing young woman. Beautiful soul, could light up a room. Made everyone laugh,'' she said.
Kruger said she knows nothing about Edward Delton Downey, the man facing two counts of first degree murder in the deaths. Police have said Baillie knew him.
'I can't wrap my head around it'
"Sara and I were friends for many years and I didn't know anything about him. I'm learning as well,'' she said.
"It's hard for us to accept. Maybe there'll never be answers. But I'm just going to leave it in the Lord's hands now and it's up to him.''
Vonavka said she's also struggling to make sense of what happened.
"It's not fair and I can't wrap my head around it,'' she said.
"That was a beautiful little girl and she deserved so much more than that. And all we can do now is just pray that there's justice served and nobody else has to go through this 'cause this is not anything I would wish on my worst enemy. This is horrific."