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New playground opens in memorial lot

Officials celebrate shooting victim’s life, innocence

Youngsters took to the slide at the Tiffany Moore Play Lot after the unveiling of new playground equipment yesterday. Youngsters took to the slide at the Tiffany Moore Play Lot after the unveiling of new playground equipment yesterday. (Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff)
By Laura J. Nelson
Globe Correspondent / July 31, 2011

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The children who lined up to zip down the new rainbow slide at the Tiffany Moore Play Lot in Roxbury yesterday only knew it was fast and fun.

But their parents understood the slide’s significance: The bright stripes represent the sunny personality of a young girl for whom the equipment is named. Tiffany Moore was 12 when she was gunned down on a nearby street corner 23 years ago.

During a ribbon-cutting for the new playground in Franklin Park, Mayor Thomas M. Menino and other officials remembered the child whose life was cut short Aug. 19, 1988, and reminded parents to let their own children stay kids for as long as possible.

“It’s important to come together for celebrations like these,’’ Menino said to a crowd of about 150 people, many of them children running in circles on the asphalt. “This reopening allows a tragedy to give way to hope, laughter, and happiness for the children.’’

Darlene Tiffany Moore, who went by Tiffany, was caught in crossfire between two men wearing Halloween masks and black clothes as she perched on a mailbox in Roxbury’s Grove Hall area, talking with friends. Her death sent shockwaves through the city, and Moore’s death became a symbol of an epidemic of street violence in Boston.

A jury convicted one suspect, Shawn Drumgold, of first-degree murder after hearing testimony from a half-dozen witnesses that he was the shooter. Drumgold spent 14 years in prison before his conviction was overturned in 2003.

“When I first heard about the playground, I’d just heard also that that man had walked free,’’ said Darrell Moore, Tiffany’s brother, before the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “This came at a perfect time to restore my faith in the community and the memory of my sister.’’

Moore flew in from Virginia with his family to attend the ceremony at the playground, which was erected by the Play 2 Dream Foundation and the Boston Parks and Recreation Department. He said he felt overwhelmed when he heard about the park renovation via e-mail a few months ago.

Moore spoke of his sister’s love for playgrounds and slides. Like the rainbows God sent as a promise after the Biblical flood, Moore said, the rainbow slide serves as a promise to create a sheltered, happy space for the neighborhood’s children.

“This is a reminder that Tiffany will never be forgotten,’’ Moore said, “and that we should live, work, and go to school in a safe place.’’

The dedication, which comes just weeks after a 4-year-old boy was seriously injured by a stray bullet at a park in Dorchester, serves as a good reminder for parents that parks are normally safe places to bring their children, said Kim Odom, whose 13-year-old son Steven was shot to death four years ago by a bullet officials said was meant for someone else.

“We want to create an atmosphere of hope and nonviolence and encourage people to not be afraid,’’ Odom said. “We hope what happened to our family and Tiffany’s family will not happen to anyone else.’’

The playground features enough swings, slides, and climbing equipment to accommodate 300 children, said Kathy Welsh of Play 2 Dream.

Sometimes, adults can get in on the fun, too.

After city Councilor Tito Jackson, whose district includes Franklin Park, pushed parents to keep their children innocent and happy for as long as possible, he glanced at the rainbow slide with a smile.

“And now, I think it’s time to go down the slide,’’ Jackson announced, and he slipped off his sport coat.

As children shrieked in delight, Jackson started up the stairs.

Laura J. Nelson can be reached at lnelson@globe.com.


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