Firemen’s Park Union Beach, NJ
A beautiful letter regarding Jack’s playground…..
My name is Diana and have lived in NJ my whole life. Going to the park was always one of my favorite things to do growing up, and now I take great joy in bringing my own two daughters to the park. I first heard about Jack Pinto’s Park from a mom at dance school. She mentioned what a great park it was – new, clean, with lots of equipment, and right on the water. However, I hesitated in taking my girls there. The tragedy of Newtown , CT affected me greatly – as it did most of America . It will forever be one of those moments when you look back years from now and still know where you were when you heard the horrible news. I shed many tears, not only for all those little (and big) angels but for the families they left behind. So, when the news of the park came up, my first instinct was to avoid it. The park would dredge up such a painful moment, and why do that to myself if there were plenty of other parks to visit?
Then, one day I saw my girls playing in our backyard on a beautiful spring day. The sun was shining, they were laughing, and life seemed perfect. Suddenly, my desire to visit Jack’s park was too great to ignore. It dawned on me that this is what Jack’s family wanted and why the Sandy Ground project was created – to memorialize Jack and all the angels that left us too soon that horrible day. While the event of their death was tragic and heart breaking, the playgrounds were an opportunity to celebrate their life in such a way that it would bring hours of laughter and enjoyment to both parents and their children.
So, my husband and I packed up both girls and headed to the park. It was late, about 6:30pm or so, so there were not many people there, but the first thing I sensed was a feeling of peace and quiet joy. Upon my first look at the park, I knew it was a place that we would return to again and again. The girls spent about an hour riding the swings and going to down the slide, and although they are still quite young, I explained to them that the park was dedicated to a very special little boy named Jack who was very sweet and very brave. The park has a beautiful headstone with Jack’s name and his palm from what I believe must have been a school project. I have the most amazing picture of my three year old giving the palm on the stone a high five after she asked us to carry her up to reach it. She wanted to thank Jack for such a fun evening. So, the tears I feared I would shed at the park when I first heard about it finally came, but it was bittersweet because although I was a bit sad, my tears were of joy. Joy knowing that now one more person, my daughter, knew Jack’s name, and that he had made her happy although he was no longer with us on Earth.
So, my long letter is to thank you for such an amazing gift and to thank Jack’s parents for letting us share in the memory of their beloved son. I know that every smile and every laugh shared at the park is reaching Jack in heaven, and I truly hope it is reaching the hearts of his family as well.