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New Playground Honors Teacher Killed In Newtown Massacre

A Playground Will Be Dedicated To All 26 Victims

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STRATFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork) — A new effort was launched Saturday to remember one of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Conn.

As CBS 2’s Cindy Hsu reported, construction began Saturday on a playground in Stratford, Conn., that will honor hero teacher Victoria Soto, 27. Dozens of firefighters, police officers and volunteers took part, promising to keep Soto’s memory alive.

They sang “Feliz Navidad,” Soto’s favorite song, as they planted trees and let go of green and white balloons in her memory

“She had a playful personality, and all of those things are playful and colorful and happy,” said Soto’s aunt, Denise Fagan.

Soto was one of six staff members killed in the massacre on Dec. 14 of last year. Twenty first-graders, all ages 6 or 7, were also killed when gunman Adam Lanza opened fire before shooting and killing himself.

The construction going on is part of the 26 Angels Product, an effort to build a playground in honor of each of the Newtown victims. All will be built in places impacted by Sandy.

Firefighter Bill Lavin came up with the idea.

“We are honoring the children and the teachers we lost in Newtown in a way that’s healing and recovering,” Lavin said.

Each playground will be personalized to the victim it is memorializing. Soto’s is the fifth of 26 playgrounds to be built.

Although it is extremely difficult for Soto’s family to move forward, they said they could not think of a better way to remember Victoria.

“Today, I wish that we can capture that spirit and build this playground for our children, and somehow, for the child in us,” Fagan said.

All the playgrounds incorporate items that represent the victims they honor. In Soto’s case, those items are flamingos – pink – and Christmas trees.

Construction on the playground is expected to take about a week.

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