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Hundreds were on hand at the vigil for Mickey Shunick, Tuesday evening at Parc Sans Souci in downtown Lafayette, with candles in hand hoping to light the way home for the missing woman.

 

In the beginning, Parc Sans Souci was cloaked in a solemn vibe as hundreds of anxious faces milled about, engaged in hushed conversations of both hope and fear. They came to this vigil Tuesday evening for the missing 22-year-old, Michaela “Mickey” Shunick, last seen in the wee hours of Saturday morning, some three days ago, riding her bike home from the Saint Streets to the Ambassador/Congress area. Mickey was 21 when she vanished. Monday was her 22nd birthday.

Intermixed in the crowd, volunteers wearing T-shirts with "missing" posters imprinted on them handed out candles for later on. Tables on either side of the tiered, semi-circular stage also had buckets of them. Downtown Lafayette assisted with the event.

When called to order, most of the crowd took a seat on the cement in front of the stage, while others stood to the rear of them. The park became as quiet as a church. Volunteers and Mickey's family sat in chairs on the stage.

Above and behind them, a modest banner with the words stacked top to bottom, Bring Mickey Home, was suspended between the stage's pillars. The words Bring and Home, like the balloons tied to the pillars and gently bouncing in an occasional slight dusk breeze, are purple – Mickey’s favorite color.

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Josh Coen (left) and Emily Romein (right) support their friend and co-volunteer Ashley Says as she talks about their mutual friend, Mickey Shunick.

Contrary to the atmosphere, in a photo radiating from the sign, the blue-eyed Mickey smiles broadly, framed by her wavy white-blonde hair.

Members of the clergy offered solace and prayer, and volunteers came forward to talk about the missing coed, their voices at times choked with emotion. Those on hand learned that the initial reward of $10,000, an anonymous donation, grew to $20,000 in short time and the volunteers went from 12 at the outset to 750, and more are welcome to help at 100 Ryan St.

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The Rev. Ann Sutton (left) and Mickey Shunick's immediate family, her father Tom Shunick, mother Nancy Rowe, brother Zach Shunick and sister Charlie Shunick tend to their candles at Tuesday's vigil at Parc Sans Souci.

Near the close, the substantial support group lit their candles and Christine Peirce accompanied by Ryan Dejean on guitar, sang The Beatles’ “All You Need is Love." The gathering gradually joined in at the chorus “… all you need is love… all you need is love… all you need is love .. love, love .. love is all you need …” Righteous frissons buoyed by the power of love swept through the crowd, lifting its collective spirit.

At rally’s end, with the Shunick family and volunteers standing together arm-in-arm on the lip of the stage, and the crowd, with stars in their hands and hope in their hearts, the uneasy and nervous energy at the start of the vigil transformed into a semi-defiant mantra: “Bring Mickey home!” “Bring Mickey home!” “Bring Mickey home!” “Bring Mickey home!”

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The face of Charlie Shunick, Mickey Shunick's younger sister, says it all at Tuesday's vigil.

Here are the official details:

Mickey was reported missing Saturday, May 19, at approximately 2 a.m. She was last seen leaving  Ryan Street near downtown Lafayette at 1:45 am on a black Schwinn Madison fixed gear bicycle with glittery gold handlebars. Mickey was heading towards her home on Governor Miro Drive (near  the Ambassador Caffery /Congress intersection). She is an avid cyclist and made this trip regularly on bike.

Mickey is a Caucasian female with shoulder-length white blonde curly hair, blue eyes, and is approximately 5'1” and 115 pounds. She has a small tattoo of a bicycle on her right outer ankle and a nose ring on her left nostril. She was last seen wearing a pastel striped shirt, light wash denim skinny jeans, and silver ankle boots. She would have been carrying a light brown leather backpack, a black and yellow Vera Bradley wallet, a black Verizon slider phone (which has been turned off), and a small pink container of mace.

If you have information, contact the Lafayette Police Department at 337-291-8633, email here, or go here on Facebook.

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Young equestrians, students of Mickey Shunick, participate in the vigil Tuesday for their missing teacher.

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