Despite Saturday's sweltering heat, about 200 people - including law enforcement, government officials, church leaders, and residents young and old - marched for peace and spoke out against recent gun violence which resulted in two fatalities last week in Chester.
"It's an emotional time," said Maggie James, who helped organize the "Save Our Youth Rally and Non-Violence Peace March."
The march comes just days after two Chester men were fatally shot and several others wounded at a Chester night club and hospital on Monday night. A similar march was held in August and another is planned for Oct. 30.
"This time last week all these men were vibrant young men in our community and today they're gone and for what reason? Why?" James said.
The march started downtown at Cadz Street, wove past houses where residents sat on their porches, and ended with a picnic-style gathering at the S. L. Finley Center on Cemetery Street, where church leaders encouraged youth toward spiritual, violence-free lives, choirs took turns singing, and hotdogs and hamburgers sizzled on the grill.
Among the crowd were people wearing T-shirts with pictures of loved ones lost to violence, including the most recent victims of what authorities believe to be gang-related violence.
A common message among speakers and marchers was caretakers need to take control of their children and get them to church. Najah Sabree said parents are fearful of disciplining their children, and as a result, children have become too powerful.
"You've got to know there's a strong power, a higher power," said Sabree, a mother of eight and grandmother of eight who lost both her father and husband to gun violence.
"That's where kids are failing - the higher power is the weapon, not God," she said.
Chelsea Sims marched in memory of Antonio "Jack" Price, who died after being shot Monday night outside of Studio 72 in Chester.
She and Price have a two-year old son together. They have been a couple for years, she said, and just moved into together. She said Price used to ask her if she would marry him one day.
"He was my friend, my best friend," she said. "He knew everything about me."
"Now I just wonder why," she said. "I really wish I had more time."
Lemiah Feaster, 9, marched "to stop the fighting," she said. It scared her when her uncle, Taurean Baryat, 24, was one of seven people shot at a party in 2006. Baryat, who fears for his 4-year-old daughter's safety, said he is tired of the violence.
"We grew up together, we played sports together - now they're killing each other like they don't know each other," he said. "It's sad it had to end this way."
"But the thing about it is, we're not even sure if it's ended."
With one suspect in Monday's shootings still at large and more arrests expected, many marchers expressed the fear of more violence to come.
Pastor Demorrious Robinson, 29, of New Life Redemption Ministries, is trying to grow a congregation of young people and is planning to launch mentoring programs and prison ministries.
Lowering school drop-out rates, bringing jobs to Chester, and getting young people involved in peace are the solutions to violence, he said.
"If we can rally young people, we can make a change," he said.
Rev. Roy Jeffcoat of Saint Luke Baptist Church in Winnsboro, and keynote speaker, warned young men about what he sees as an unjust justice system.
"The justice system is not made correctly for the black community," he said, criticizing it for treating blacks and whites differently.
"There's nothing waiting for you but prison," he said, urging parents to take their children to church and urging young people to steer clear of gang violence.
Before the march, government leaders and law enforcement weighed in on the violence and what the march means for the community.
"If there's anyone in Chester who doesn't realize we need to do something about (the violence), they're blind or deaf," said Mitchell Foster, mayor of Chester.
Gang-related activity is a problem in Chester, but Mike Brown, chief of the Chester City Police, said he hopes the peace marches will help raise awareness and deter violence.
"We're law enforcement, we can't do this on our own," said Chester County Sheriff Richard Smith. "I think it's wonderful that the community has started to stand up. People have got to take a stand."