WESTPORT, Conn. – A new playground will be built at Westport’s Long Lots School in memory of 6-year-old Dylan Hockley , one of the 26 victims of the Dec. 14 mass shooting at Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary.
The playground will be built through the Sandy Ground Project: Where Angels Play , an initiative led by the New Jersey State Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association, Westport Deputy Fire Chief Robert Kepchar said. Through this project, a total of 26 playgrounds will be built in Hurricane Sandy-devastated communities in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. Each playground will be dedicated to a Sandy Hook victim.
Construction on the Long Lots playground is slated to begin on the morning of June 7, Kepchar said.
“Assisting in the Westport playground project will be 26 workers comprised of Westport firefighters, police officers, EMS personnel and teachers, along with some members of the Hockley family,” Kepchar said in a statement Tuesday. “Jake Hockley, Dylan’s brother, will be the ‘foreman’ of the job.”
The playground will be constructed using a $117,000 donation from the Benevolent Association. At its April 29 meeting, the Westport Board of Education voted unanimously to accept the gift.
At the meeting, Kepchar told board members that Westport was selected for a playground because the Hockley family has ties to the town.
"They wanted a place where their older son could play on the playground without having to pay a fee," Kepchar said at the April 29 board meeting. “They decided Westport was the place they wanted to go."
The Long Lots playground will be the fourth constructed through the Sandy Ground Project. The first was built in Sea Bright, N.J., in memory of Sandy Hook teacher Anne Marie Murphy. The second was built in Union Beach, N.J., in honor of Jack Pinto.
The third playground, dedicated to the memory of Catherine Hubbard at John Predengast Elementary School in Ansonia, will be unveiled during a ribbon-cutting ceremony May 31. Other playgrounds will be built in Fairfield, Stratford, New London, Rockaway, N.Y., and Mystic Seaport.
In the same spirit that other communities used to raise funds for the Long Lots playground project, the Westport Fire Department is asking the community to “pay it forward” by contributing to the Sandy Ground Project, Kepchar said.
For more information about the Sandy Ground Project or to donate, visit the official project website .
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