We had gone to the wonderful Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, Conn., with one of my wife’s best friends and her son. The aquarium is small but nice: they have seals, sharks and even sea jellies you can pet.
Honestly, if you get a chance to pet sea jellies in a controlled environment, I totally recommend it. The staff at the aquarium was very knowledgeable, explaining why they kept the jellies in a frigidly cold tank and about their life cycles. Though no one had an answer to the sea jelly versus jellyfish debate. Seriously, does that look like a fish?
After a nice lunch at a local Greek restaurant, we walked back to where we had parked our cars just down the block from the aquarium. It turned out to be next to a playground that seemed very modern with nice new equipment.
The sign at the entrance to the park explained that it was a “Sandy Ground” project. This one was sponsored by Goldfish crackers, hence the goldfish icons all over the place (turns out Pepperidge Farms, makers of Goldfish crackers, is headquartered in town). But what exactly is a “Sandy Ground”?
This Sandy Ground is one of 26 playgrounds built in areas devastated by the October 2012 Hurricane Sandy in honor of the 26 lives lost in Sandy Hook elementary school shooting a few month’s later just about 19 miles from this particular playground.
This playground was built in honor of Allison Wyatt, a 6-year-old killed by a gunman with an assault weapon in her own first grade classroom. The playground that day was filled with kids running, swinging and laughing. The kind of joy that was snuffed out almost six years ago.
At the time, people were sure the cold-blooded massacre of those 6- and 7-year olds and their teachers, would be the tipping point in the gun debate in this country. Sad to say, it has just gotten worse. So much worse.
It is nice that there is this playground that overlooks the water and has paths to hiking trails. It’s nice that there is a place for your kids to wear themselves out a little more after the aquarium. You watch your kids run and jump, but at the same you can’t help thinking about little Allison and her classmates and the cold hard fact that they cannot enjoy these playground built in their memory.
Visit the website for Where Angels Play, the organization that spearheaded the building of the Sandy Ground playgrounds, to learn more about the project. Click the “Our Playgrounds” link on that site to find the locations near you.
A version of this first appeared on Great Moments in Bad Parenting.