LAFAYETTE, La. (KPEL) – It was gloomy for much of the day. The steady downpour of rain threatened to put a damper on an afternoon meant to celebrate the life of Mickey Shunick. But as hundreds gathered at Parc International in downtown Lafayette, the drizzling showers of the morning halted as if Mickey herself was controlling the weather.

“Did the rain stop when this all started?” City-Parish President Joey Durel asked those in attendance. Then looking up toward the heavens, he said, “Pretty good Mick.”

If the rain had a negative effect on the number of people who turned out, it did not put a stranglehold on the enthusiasm of those who showed. Many braved the wet weather, donning raincoats and ponchos and holding umbrellas. Still many more came prepared as if the rain wasn't even a factor, bringing fold-up chairs that lined the outer rings of the park.

Food trucks were there selling their wares, and beverages were also available. But despite the somewhat festival atmosphere, it was Mickey everyone came out to celebrate, and that was kicked off by Josh Coen, the public face of the social media campaign that took over Facebook in the days and weeks after Mickey disappeared.

"It seems near impossible for me to come up with the words to describe how incredible it is to see all of you here today to celebrate Mickey," Coen said. "This summer has been a crucial and emotional journey to all involved."

The crowd was then treated to fond memories of Mickey from many of her family and closest friends, from one of her high school teachers, from those who rode with her at the equestrian school at which she taught, and even from those from Texas Equusearch who helped take the lead in the search for her and who were greeted at the event by enthusiastic applause.

The impact she had on so many lives was evident in the testimonies given. There was the story of one of Mickey's equestrian students who suffered from self-consciousness and insecurity, but after befriending Mickey, she started standing up for herself and for others being bullied.

"And when her mom asked her why the sudden change," explained Shafi Hafez, "her response was, 'Mickey'."

But if there was anyone the crowd wanted to hear from the most, it was Charlene Shunick, Mickey's older sister whose striking physical similarity to her younger sibling and whose public pleas throughout the search endeared her to the community. The fact they looked like nearly identical twins of each made up the bulk of her short testimony.

"I think that kind of sums up our relationship pretty well," Charlene said. "We used and abused each other in the best way possible."

"I know Mickey still is feeling the love," she said.

Durel also took the opportunity to announce his intention to have a portion of Bertrand Drive going toward the horse farm rededicated as a bike lane and named "Mickey Shunick Way."

"We all know...Mickey and equestrian--Mickey and bicycling," Durel said. "We all know about the horse farm and that that's going to turn into a beautiful beautiful garden for Lafayette...there will be an equestrian connection to the horse farm once again."

Josh Coen

Richard Lofton

Shafi Havez

Kathy Roy

Beverly Ramos, Texas Equusearch

Jake Snyder

City-Parish President Joey Durel

Charlene Shunick


More From 99.9 KTDY