- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 18, 2015

WAVELAND, Miss. (AP) - When the new playground at Ellwood Bourgeois Memorial Park opens Sunday, it will be more than just a place for children to frolic. It will be a memorial to a Waveland family who died during Hurricane Katrina, and a tribute to the close tie between the Bay St. Louis area and a group of New Jersey firefighters.

The Sun Herald reports (https://bit.ly/1E07j2f) the privately funded play area is the latest addition to more than 30 playgrounds built by nonprofit Where Angels Play Foundation, based in Woodbridge, New Jersey.

Construction started Monday morning on the facility.

Playground coordinator and school teacher Tammy Raymond said the play area is being built in memory of Edgar Bane, his wife Christina Bane and their two sons, Edgar Jr. and Carl.

“I started researching in the Bay St. Louis Waveland School District and I found that we had two students that lived near here that were both autistic and they, along with their parents, perished in the storm,” Raymond said. “I went to Bill Lavin of Where Angels Play and I got support from the Board of Aldermen and here were are today building the playground.”

The bond between the Bay St. Louis area and Lavin began in the days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“A former colleague of mine, Jackie Wintrouba, reached out to some New Jersey firefighters by having her students write them cards of encouragement,” Raymond said.

One of the firefighters was Lavin, who was the captain of his station. Lavin said he and his men were very touched by the thoughtfulness of the students, and they decided to show their appreciation to four years later.

“We received some cards and letters from students at North Bay Elementary School. This helped us get through a very difficult time,” Lanvin said. After Katrina hit, he said, “We were very curious as to how the school and children had made it.”

Lavin said he heard North Bay Elementary had been destroyed and the kids were going to school in trailers, and they raised about $400,000 to help the area.

“I came down and the kids didn’t have any place to play, so we knew we had to build them a playground,” he said. “We came back two different times and built three playgrounds. We really loved it and we created some lifelong friendships with the community.”

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Information from: The Sun Herald, https://www.sunherald.com

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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