On Friday December 14, 2012 the community of Sandy Hook changed forever. Sandy Hook Memorial Park honors the twenty children and six educators who lost their lives that day, with a permanent five-acre preserve that’s uniquely designed to offer moments of quiet contemplation alongside the triumph of life. The Memorial Park is not meant to be a place of mourning, but of celebration and remembrance. It is designed to allow visitors the flexibility to reflect on the tragic events of that day through a variety of experiences, while also celebrating the power of nature, the playful energy of children, and the commitment of educators.
The conjoined children’s and teachers’ plazas, act as the centerpiece of the park. The children’s plaza is a space of joy and play, activated by young visitors who may splash in its shallow reflecting pools and hop between the twenty stone platforms that make up its foundation. Six waterfalls spill over the stone dividing wall from the teachers’ plaza above, symbolizing the nature of this sacred relationship and the ongoing connection between a teacher and pupil. The teachers’ plaza features six stone pools and a low wall for sitting and viewing the park expanse below—a more simplified program inviting quiet contemplation and reflection. Surrounding the Memorial Plaza to the south and west, the lawn is a place for visitors to picnic, rest, and socialize. The memorial trail loop leads visitors to the plaza and beyond, with loose gravel pathways that pass through the wooded areas of the park. Lining the trail are the twenty-six previously donated granite benches, dedicated to each of the individual victims.
Sandy Hook Memorial Park draws on the restorative power of nature—through the elegant use of water, light, and landscape—and celebrates life through its ongoing activation and use by the community. The park is not one note, nor a singular experience by design, but instead a welcoming, safe environment for first responders, family, friends, and the public alike.