While purple balloons had been placed at various spots around Newtown, the celebration took place some 50 miles north at Elizabeth Park in Hartford, Conn.
But the girl who would have celebrated her 8th birthday on Friday, Ana Grace Marquez-Greene, was only there in spirit. Ana was one of 20 children killed at Sandy Hook School on Dec. 14, 2012.
The celebration was to mark the opening of a playground named in her honor — at the very spot she played as a child. And the playground, just like the balloons, had to be purple — Ana's favorite color.
Even in its first few moments of existence, the playground had already become a place filled with laughter as children enthusiastically explored its many creative, Ana-inspired elements.