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Playgrounds to honor Conn. victims in Sandy towns

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) New Jersey's largest firefighter union is remembering the 26 victims of December's Connecticut school shooting by building a playground to honor each one in a community recovering from Superstorm Sandy.

New Jersey and New York each will each get 10 playgrounds. Connecticut will get six.

Firefighters' Mutual Benevolent Association president Bill Lavin says each playground will reflect the personality of the child or teacher for whom it's named.


"While these parks will bear the names of the Newtown victims, they are dedicated to all children of violence," he said. "This is not just about Newtown. A massacre is occurring one child at a time in our inner cities."


Grace McDonald's will be decorated with the peace signs she liked to draw.  For Jessica Rekos, horses and whales. For Dylan Hockley, the color blue.  Jack Pinto's will have a football theme because he was a New York Giants fan. Chase Kowalski's will have fitness stations because he competed in children's triathlons.


The first playground, in Sea Bright, will honor special education teacher Ann Marie Murphy. It will include a climbing wall and slides hand-picked by some of the children in town. It may include a dog run because of Murphy's love for her pet. The groundbreaking is March 1.


In a letter to the Association Jen Hubbard, Catherine's mom, said "I can hear the creaking as the kids pump their feet and touch the clouds. I see a community coming together in the midst of their own healing to simply forget their worries if only for a moment."


She added "Going to the playground was one of the favorite Sunday afternoon family outings- she would climb and jump and swing so high, she was convinced she was touching the clouds.  I know that she is thrilled with the prospect of having a park in her honor.  Kids can be kids and parents can breathe a little lighter knowing that they will all we watched over by the 26 angels for whom you all are building."

Noah Pozner's parents say a playground is a fitting tribute. His will be in New York in the Rockaway section of Queens, where his grandfather lives.


Other playgrounds are planned for:


10 East Ocean Avenue, Sea Bright, NJ
Scholer Park, Union Beach, NJ
Father Capadanno Blvd, Midland Beach, Staten Island, NY
Westport, CT
Highlands, NJ
Normandy Beach, NJ
Belmar/Lake Como, NJ
Point Pleasant, NJ
Atlantic City, NJ
Stratford, CT
Nassau County, NY
Brick, NJ

The $2.1 million project is called The Sandy Ground: Where Angels Play. Donations have been received to fund six playgrounds so far.


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Markley van Camp Robbins

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