WESTMINSTER - It is tangible proof of a community that is healing. Work has started on the Jessica Ridgeway Memorial Park.
The park is being built in remembrance of 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway who was abducted and murdered on Oct. 5, 2012. The park is being built in an area where Jessica frequently played with friends.
"This to me is the most fantastic thing about Jessica. The whole thing about Jessica is she loved to play here. She loved to come down here on her scooter. She rode her bike down here with all of her friends. They played here all the time," Christine Ridgeway, Jessica's grandmother, said. "The fact that this will be a memorial to Jessica is just outstanding for me, and it is really near and dear to my heart and my family's heart."
The old playground equipment is being removed and donated to Kids around the World. The nonprofit organization refurbishes old playground equipment and installs it in developing nations.
"That equipment overseas is like something they've never seen before. These kids have never even seen a playground before," Tim Clauson, the playground director for Kids Around the World, said.
It is hoped construction on the new playground equipment and other features of the Jessica Ridgeway Memorial Park can begin in May. The park will feature things that will be symbolic of Jessica including the colors green and purple, which were her favorite colors. Throughout the park, there will also be stones etched with knock-knock jokes on them. Jessica loved to tell knock-knock jokes.
"She's going to be here in spirit, and that's what we want," Christine said. "I could just see her. I mean, I'll see her friends, I'll see the neighbors, I'll see all of the kids from Witt Elementary School. They'll be playing here. They'll be riding on the zip-line, playing on the swing-set and running around in the park and that would be just outstanding."
The Jessica Ridgeway Memorial Park project is being funded through community donations. They've received very large contributions from organizations and individuals and small donations from children. The goal for the project is $500,000. While work begins, fundraising efforts continue.
You can donate to the project by visiting the website for the Westminster Legacy Foundation at http://www.westminsterlegacyfoundation.org/.
It is hoped the project can be completed by late summer and provide a place for the community to heal and always remember Jessica Ridgeway.
"It leaves her memories on forever," Christine said.
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