Sandy-affected N.J. town honors Newtown victims

(CBS News) SEABRIGHT, N.J. - Here is a story of a link between two of the most tragic stories we all watched unfold last year. Some of those who lost so much in superstorm Sandy are honoring the victims of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School and doing it in a way they hope eases some small part of all of their pain.

At the crack of dawn Friday, there were fireworks and bagpipes on the beach.

The shore town of Sea Bright, New Jersey celebrated the groundbreaking of a new playground, replacing one destroyed by superstorm Sandy. It'll be dedicated to a victim of the Sandy Hook school shooting in Connecticut.

Firefighter Bill Lavin came up with the idea.

Newtown father delivers emotional plea to Congress on gun violence
New details bring into focus Newtown shooter's motive
Husband of Newtown victim remembers wife as hero

"I just felt like would it be possible to build 26 parks and honor these children," he said, "and it kind of fit because we knew there were so many communities along the shore that were in need of support."

With funds raised privately, and volunteers to build them, each playground will bear the name of a Newtown victim.

"I think it's a beautiful idea," said Nicole Hockley, the mother of Dylan Hockley, a 6-year old killed at Sandy Hook Elementary. "A playground brings something positive to a community for children, and that's got to be one of the best ways to memorialize my child and the other children that died that day."

Watch an extended interview with Nicole Hockley below:

For her the hardest part is realizing that Dylan is "not just in the next room, that this is permanent, and that's something I still can't get my head around."

In her home, there's still a picture of Dylan's class on the refrigerator -- and in that picture is a person Dylan adored. It is that of Ann Marie Murphy, Dylan's favorite teacher. Nicole Hockley acknowledged that the first playground will be named after her.

"Dylan and Ann Marie had a very special bond," she said. "He truly loved her, and I know that she loved him."

Children from the community poured buckets of sand and tossed flowers into the ocean to honor Murphy and the others who died.

Paul Gowins considers the playground a gift. "It's everything to us and this is where we raise our kids," he said, "and I grew up on the beach, too, and that's our best memories."

To Nicole Hockley, the playground represents "not so much what I see but what I hear. I hear laughter because that's what Dylan would do at a playground, and that's what I hope these playgrounds do for other children. Make them happy and allow them to laugh."

Work begins on Dylan's playground next month.

  • Terrell Brown

Comments

Follow Us

On Twitter