People clutching cups of hot chocolate gathered round a tree draped with bright purple lights Thursday, talking, hugging and singing along with carols.

But this was a different sort of Christmas celebration.

The family of Cortney Lake were honouring her memory with the special tree lighting and gathering.

Purple was Lake's favourite colour.

Lake vanished on June 7 and police have now classified her disappearance as a homicide.

Cortney Lake

Cortney Lake, 24, has been missing since June 7. (Aamie Gillam Photography)

Family, friends and community members — many of whom were at Thursday's event at St. David's Park in Mount Pearl — still organize regular searches for her body.

"I can't imagine having to go through this ordeal myself, having two young daughters," said Trina Byrne, who wore a Cortney's Search Angels hat.

Byrne has been helping with the searches almost since they began and says she'll keep helping until the weather shuts them down for the winter.

Trina Byrne

Trina Byrne has been helping with the searches for Cortney Lake almost since they began. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

She says she does it because she wants to support Lake's family. 

"Just to stand behind them and to keep supporting them and showing them that we're not going to give up, and that we're going to find Cortney."

"They need the closure, they need to find Cortney. Cortney deserves to have a good resting place where they can visit her and remember her for the person that she was."