El Paso Walmart reopens amid mixed feelings

Walmart+employees+gather+together+in+front+of+the+store+before+the+reopening+on+November+14.+Photo+courtesy+of+USA+Today.

Walmart employees gather together in front of the store before the reopening on November 14. Photo courtesy of USA Today.

Sophia Navarro, Co-Editor-in-Chief

The Cielo Vista Walmart reopened on November 14, just three months after the tragic event that took place on August 3.

The stored opened its doors to the public at 9 a.m.

The store manager, Robert Evans, raised the American flag on the roof and a banner that read #ELPASOSTRONG was unveiled at the front of the store at the reopening ceremony.

“Raising the flag minutes before the store reopened symbolized that we are open and ready for business and ready to welcome and embrace our customers as they walk through the door,” Evans said for USA Today.

Mayor Dee Margo attended the reopening and gave a speech. 

Mayor Dee Margo said, “I applaud the associates for their strength and the example they are setting for all of us — love will overcome hate. This tragedy will not define us.”

The store’s reopening created a mix of emotions among the El Paso community, but many El Pasoans overcame the fear.

Loretto Academy junior Dianalaura Perez visited the Walmart soon after the reopening.

Perez said, “ As soon as I drove into the parking lot I could feel the strong and negative tension between everyone.”

Employees welcomed everyone with warm smiles, hugs, and many cheers.

Walmart underwent a few changes inside and outside the store. 

Some of the new changes inside the store were brand new shiny concrete floors, an expanded self-checkout area, and shopping carts changed from blue handles to orange handles.

Perez said, “Everything was different, the floors, the hallways, the makeup section was on the other side of the store, and many other things weren’t where they were before the shooting.”

Not only did Walmart make changes when it came to the store, but it also underwent changes in security to make people feel safe and welcome coming back.

During the opening, police officers and security guards stood at the entrances of the store.

They were there welcoming everyone and assuring them of their safety. 

One of the biggest security changes made are the new automated security gates. 

The gates have been installed past the glass doors on both of the store’s entrances.

Customers will now have to pass through a checkout line before exiting the store.

Exiting the store, one is required to hand their receipt to a Walmart employee to show proof of their purchase.

On the outside of the store, the memorial “The Grand Candela” is visible for all to see, either from the parking lot or to the freeway.

The memorial “The Grand Candela” standing tall in the Walmart parking lot. The memorial was built in honor of the 22 victims that died. Photo courtesy by kfoxtv.com

The memorial, “The Grand Candela,” opened on November 23, one week after the Walmart reopened.

 It was built in honor of the 22 victims that died. 

“The Grand Candela, as it’s called, features 22 perforated aluminum arcs grouped into a single 30-foot monument symbolizing unity and emanating light into the sky,” said a Walmart representative.

Families, Walmart employees, and El Pasoans attended the unveiling of the memorial on the morning of November 23, 100 gathered around the structure.

A plaque on the memorial states:

“Dedicated to the people of El Paso, may this memorial stand as a solemn tribute to those who lost their lives on Aug. 3, 2019, be a beacon of hope for the survivors, and a lasting reminder to all of the enduring strength, resiliency and love that unites El Paso.”

The memorial that stood on the back fence of the Walmart has been relocated to Ponder Park.

The rest of the memorial has been placed in a warehouse until a permanent location for the memorial can be determined.