Residents of all ages, faiths, backgrounds and walks of life converged on the park, high above the Palisades, with the picturesque Manhattan skyline behind them.
"It was an outstanding outpouring of people, an overflow crowd," said Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner. "They all came to share in the remembrance and honor those who died and honor the heroes who helped rescue victims that day. We had no idea how large it would get. But everyone wanted to be in Hamilton Plaza to pay their respect to the victims."
The ceremony was an interfaith gathering, with religious representatives from all the area denominational groups invited to participate. Among those in attendance were Rev. Robert Emery, the pastor of St. Lawrence Roman Catholic Church; Birgid Solano, the pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, and Rabbi Robert Scheinberg of the United Synagogue of Hoboken. Each offered words of remembrance and words of healing.
Rev. L.W. Guilfoyle of the Park United Methodist Church and P.V. Patel of the International Swaminarayan Satsang Temple were invited to participate, but had other engagements to attend that evening.
Emery, who also serves as the township's chaplain for public safety, also presided over a similar candlelight prayer service that took place only a few days after the attacks.
"This one had a very different mood than the one last year," Emery said. "That was more somber, with a funereal-like tone. This one had a sense of peacefulness, a greater sense of patriotism. It was like we were coming together again a year later and we haven't been beaten, having a greater sense of quiet resolve."
Recording artist Linda Chorney sang "God Bless America," while Weehawken High School student Elizabeth Kallert read Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.
An unexpected guest was U.S. Navy Chief Jeffrey Gilroy, who is stationed in Bangor, Wash., but had recently participated in the military flag relay, presenting an American flag from the Pentagon to Shankersville, Penn., then finally to Ground Zero.
"He heard about our ceremony while in New York and wanted to be there," Turner said.
While the names of the four Weehawken residents who perished, namely Chris Gray, Eric Evans, Peter Klein and Robert Vicario, were read aloud as part of the ceremony, there were no family members present at the ceremony. Turner had reached out to the families.
"They all said that they were remembering the day with family members and friends on their own and we respected that," Turner said.
Turner said that a monument will be placed in Hamilton Park Plaza, with the names of the four fallen residents engraved on it, sometime in the near future. Turner hopes that family members will be in attendance for that private ceremony, at their convenience.
While Emery expected a large turnout, Turner was surprised. "People came out by the hundreds," Turner said. "We passed out flags and candles. And throughout the whole area, there was total silence. You can still see the disbelief. I thought we were going to have a much smaller crowd, but the people came out. They stayed, they lingered. It was a true sense of community."
"What happened a year ago was still on their minds," Emery said. "They had not let go of the pain and certainly had not forgotten."
Emery said that he was very pleased that the ceremony was one of interfaith.
"I think it was so important to have the community all come together," Emery said. "It fosters the idea that we are all connected in some way. We chose not to have anything at our parish, because it was more important to come together in a larger fashion, as a large community. I do like to see different faiths coming together, because it is a sign of unity. It was a privilege for me to be there."