WATERVILLE – A group of about 20 people brought holiday cheer Monday to the site of one of the city’s most notable mysteries.

The event, Peace for Ayla, featured caroling and a candlelit walk along Violette Avenue — the street where Ayla Reynolds was reported missing a year earlier, on Dec. 17, 2011, when she was 20 months old.

At the same time, many people’s thoughts turned to Friday’s mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

“These are not things that we want,” said Kevin Morse of Waterville at Monday’s vigil. “It’s like the president said on TV, we’ve got to make changes to make sure things like this don’t happen again.”

The group, moving along a half-mile route up and down the quiet residential street, sang a variety of holiday songs, including “Silent Night,” “12 Days of Christmas” and “Jingle Bells.”

Conrad Armandi of Oakland sang in a clear, confident baritone as the group paused outside 29 Violette Ave., the home of Ayla’s grandmother, Phoebe DiPietro, where the child was last seen. He said he was impressed by the turnout, despite the cold and snowy night.

“It’s very important that we don’t forget,” he said of Ayla’s disappearance. “It’s one way that we can show we care, by doing this.”

The home was well-lit on the inside and out, but there was no sign of its occupants.

John and Pam Cyr, who have lived on Violette Avenue for 45 years, opened their front door to hear the music and shout “Merry Christmas,” and the chorus moved past. John Cyr said time is beginning to heal the neighborhood’s wounds.

“It’s getting better, but it was pretty rough for a long time,” he said. “God only knows what happened to her.”

Cyr, who said the incident in Newtown also was on his mind, praised the group’s ability to “keep on with life” and embrace the Christmas spirit.

The event was organized by members of Ayla’s Angels, a Facebook group with almost 3,000 followers.

Ayla was reported missing by her father, Justin DiPietro. No one has been named as a suspect or a person of interest in the case.

DiPietro has said that Ayla was abducted. Police say there was no kidnapping and they believe that the three adults who saw her last – her father, her aunt Elisha DiPietro, and Courtney Roberts — are withholding information in the case.

Morning Sentinel Staff Writer Ben McCanna can be contacted at 861-9239 or at:

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