The smiling faces of children and their parents were stark contrasts to the grim subject of domestic violence, the victims of which were honored in a candlelight vigil at El Centro's Bucklin Park on Thursday.
Families and individuals gathered for a carne asada dinner and speeches to pay tribute to victims of domestic violence and to celebrate survivors of the abuse.
The fourth annual vigil was hosted by the Center for Family Solutions of Imperial Valley.
Imperial County Superior Court Judge Donal Donnelly compared the experience of domestic violence to the experience of the recent terrorist attacks on the United States. Victims of both crimes, Donnelly said, experience a variety of emotions ranging from fear and sadness to anger and frustration.
"Later, with wisdom and God's guidance, you move on," he told the crowd.
"We're able to share with the country how important love and family become in our lives," Donnelly said.