PISMO BEACH, Calif. - They came together for a candlelight vigil Friday night at Dinosaur Caves Park in Pismo Beach in memory of former Cal Poly student Kristin Smart who disappeared more than 20 years ago and in solidarity with the Smart family that is still waiting to learn what happened to her.
There is a permanent memorial to Kristin Smart at Dinosaur Caves Park and its called "Point of Hope".
The glow of candlelight Friday night helped lift the darkness over the memorial that sits at the edge of the cliffs overlooking the famous Dinosaur Caves and the Pacific Ocean.
Dozens of people who turned up for the vigil joined in prayer and expressed hope the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Kristin Smart on the Cal Poly campus back in May of 1996 may soon be over.
"Mr. and Mrs Smart have had a roller coaster ride, they get excited about things and then they plummet into depths of maybe not despair, but disappointment", said vigil organizer David Smallwood, "to tell you the truth, I think we're closer to the end of this thing."
Organizers of the candlelight vigil also maintain the "Find Kristin Smart" Facebook page and said the event was planned before this week's San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Department press conference and FBI excavation and search on the Cal Poly campus for possible human remains or evidence linked to the Kristin Smart case.
"I think they would have liked it if it had gone away but now its blowing back up in their face with social media and everything, said Edmund Aguilar who attended the vigil Friday night, "I believe they are being forced to do something with the community standing behind Kristin Smart."
Many of those involved in the Justice for Kristin movement are themselves parents and a share a common desire to bring peace and closure to the Smart family after all the years of not knowing.
"If I go three hours, especially when my daughter was a teenager, without knowing where she was, I start to panic", said vigil organizer Ann Sensibaugh, "I can't imagine what it would be like to go 20 years, and I really am sorry the Smart's are going through this."
"We don't want it go another five minutes, and certainly not another 20 years", David Smallwood said, "so we're going to keep on it, we're going to stay on it, and we're going to keep communicating among one another until it finally comes to a close."
Some of those who participated in the candlelight vigil moved it over to Arroyo Grande and in front of the family home of Paul Flores, a former Cal Poly student who investigators say was the last one to see Kristin Smart alive the night she vanished and who remains a person of interest in the ongoing criminal investigation.
Many of those at the Friday night vigil believe Kristin Smart's body is buried in the backyard of the Flores family home.