Ocean City Opens New Playground With a Tribute to a Life Lost Too Soon

first_imgAn American flag is draped from Ocean City Fire Department ladders during a ribbon-cutting for the Benjamin Wheeler Playground on Sunday at 29th Street and West Avenue in Ocean City, NJ.A new playground was dedicated Sunday in an event that mixed the joy of children with the sadness of a life lost too soon.A couple hundred people gathered at 29th Street and West Avenue to watch the ceremonial ribbon-cutting opening a new playground named for Benjamin Wheeler, a 6-year-old killed in December 2012 in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Conn.The playground equipment includes drawings from Benjamin. A stone monument bearing the names of his family members is embedded with Legos, his favorite activity. Ocean City Intermediate School student Julia Wilson sang one of his favorite songs, the Beatles’ “In My Life.” And a banner plane flew overhead bearing the message, “Ocean City, Be kind to one another. Love Ben.”The playground is part of the Sandy Ground Project, an effort to rebuild playgrounds that were damaged by Superstorm Sandy in October 2012 and to pay tribute to the 26 teachers and children killed in the school shooting in Connecticut.Ocean City’s is the 22nd of 26 planned playgrounds.“What you’re doing is part of what helps us get up in the morning,” Benjamin’s father, David Wheeler, said in a groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday.Volunteers proceeded to construct the entire playground later that day.The entire cost of the project is a paid for by the Sandy Ground Foundation, a nonprofit  organization formed by the New Jersey state firefighters’ union.A fundraiser for other Sandy Ground Project playgrounds is planned for 5 to 8 p.m. Sunday, June 22, at DiOrio’s Cafe in Somers Point. The event includes a buffet and beverages. Call 609-525-9182 for more information.last_img