Detroit turned a park into a memorial for the city's 1,500 Covid-19 victims

Some of the nearly 900 large poster-sized photos of Detroit victims of COVID-19. By David Williams, CNN

(CNN) -- A Detroit park has been transformed into a temporary memorial for the city's more than 1,500 residents who've died during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Hundreds of large portraits of people who've died from the virus line roadways in Belle Isle Park, so their families and loved ones can mourn and celebrate them from the safety of their vehicles.

Mayor Mike Duggan declared Monday "Detroit Memorial Day," so the city could pay tribute to the victims, many of whom could not be given the funerals they would have wanted because of restrictions in place to help control the spread of the disease.

"Today we get a chance to mourn together," Duggan said before the memorial began. He was joined by other city leaders, as well as Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist.

"We got through this as a community and we will continue to support each other as a community.

Duggan said the idea for a memorial came from Cher Coner, who's mom died of sepsis in the Spring. She shared her experience with him during a community zoom call.

"All these people that are going through all of this, not just me, that haven't had a chance to have a funeral," Coner told CNN affiliate WXYZ. "And this is just terrible it's like a nightmare."

Duggan said his family wasn't able to have visitation or funeral services when his father died in March.

"You don't realize what an important part that is in the grieving process until you go through it," he said.

The park was closed on Monday, so family members could have a chance to go through. There were 15 funeral processions planned, with hearses that led the vehicles along the route.

Ericka Murria told WXYZ that she and her family were there to honor her 82-year-old grandmother Frances Bazel, who died in April from Covid-19.

"One of the hardest parts was that my grandmother, our grandmother, was in the hospital alone," she said. "For her to be alone, to pass away alone.. I think that hurt us the most."

The photos, which were provided by family members, showed the people who died in happier times.

Whitmer said the state was particularly hard hit by the disease. As of Tuesday, the state has recorded more than 113,000 cases and 6,767 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

"It's easy to get numb in this environment but we must not just look at these as numbers," Whitmer said Monday. "These are people. Men and women. Fathers and mothers. Daughters and sons. Brothers and sisters, who had dreams and plans and a story. They weren't finished yet."

The photos will be on display through Wednesday.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2018 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Share this article: