Thousands of mourners attended a wake Friday for Worcester Firefighter Christopher J. Roy, a 36-year-old father who was killed last Sunday while battling a blaze at an apartment building on Lowell Street.
“We are overwhelmed by your words of encouragement & share deeply in your sorrow as we pay our respects to Firefighter Christopher J. Roy [and] his family this evening,” the Worcester Fire Department tweeted Friday morning. “Donations are being accepted by the @WorcesterFD1009 made payable to the AVA ROY FUND at WFD Credit Union.”
Ava is Roy’s 9-year-old daughter, who was described in the firefighter’s obituary as “the light of his life.”
Friday’s wake was held at St. John’s Catholic Church on Temple Street in Worcester. A funeral Mass will be said at the church at 10 a.m. Saturday.
By 4:15 p.m. Friday, a long procession of mourners could be seen forming a line down the stairs of the church, across the street, and into a parking lot. Governor Charlie Baker was among those in attendance Friday afternoon, according to media reports.
The city estimated that more than 5,000 mourners would attend Friday’s calling hours.
“Worcester drivers are advised that the wake and funeral for fallen Firefighter Christopher Roy taking place in the city Friday and Saturday will impact traffic and reduce the availability of parking spaces,” police said in a Thursday advisory. “Thousands of mourners, including firefighters from around New England, are expected to pay tribute at St. John’s Catholic Church located at 44 Temple Street. It is important that drivers pay close attention to all posted signs and variable message boards.”
The advisory listed a number of other closures that will take effect Friday and Saturday.
“The Worcester Police Department is advising drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians to take extra care to obey the rules of the road and to be considerate of others traveling on local streets in the areas surrounding the event,” the notice said. “Please plan ahead and seeks alternate routes as the areas mentioned will be congested.”
A number of public officials have issued statements of condolence to Roy’s family, including Representative Jim McGovern, a Worcester Democrat.
“Deeply saddened to learn that Firefighter Christopher Roy passed away this morning,” McGovern tweeted. “December is already a difficult month for the @WorcesterFD & this tragedy only adds to the grief we feel for heroes like Christopher who have been taken from us too soon.”
In December 2011, a Worcester firefighter died in a blaze, and in December 1999, six firefighters died in the Cold Storage Warehouse fire, among the deadliest incidents for Massachusetts firefighters.