ATTLEBORO — The memory of a little girl who loved tutus, sparkles, bows and butterflies now lives on in a 5,000-square-foot playground near the Tilda B. Stone Playground off South Main Street.
Ariella’s Flutterby Playground, named for the 2-year-old girl remembered as “beautiful” and “full of life,” officially opened on Saturday afternoon with a large group of excited children streaming into the new playground only seconds after the ribbon cutting.
Many children and adults — not all of them women — wore colorful tutus to the opening ceremony to honor the favorite wardrobe item of Ariella Marie Ouellette, who died unexpectedly in 2017.
The “very special, one-of-a-kind, healthy girl” was only six days past her second birthday when she died in her sleep, with her death attributed to Sudden Unexpected Death in Children, or SUDC.
SUDC is described as a category of death, not a cause, when after a thorough investigation with an autopsy, the child’s death remains unexplained.
In the wake of the tragedy, Attleboro residents Alicia and Larry Ouellette strove to create something positive, and the revitalization of the playground where Ariella loved to play came from that initiative.
During the soccer games of Ariella’s older brother, Ryan, the young girl loved to run around the playground while watching the other children play soccer.
But most of all, the swing set was Ariella’s favorite.
“Every time she asked to go on the swings, we’d day, ‘Yes, for a minute,’” Alicia Ouellette recalled.
Thus, an inscription on the playground sign reads “Come Swing For A ‘Minute.’”
Construction was provided by Citiworks Fence, United Builders, Walsh Contracting, John Eramian Signs & Lettering, as well as the efforts of many city recreation department employees.
The playground’s structures are handicapped accessible, and the Ouellettes have plans to continue expanding the area.
“We just hope to make other kids laugh and smile like (Ariella) always did,” Larry Ouellette said.
A friend of the family, Marty Bray of Norton, said that the playground would, indeed, ensure Ariella’s memory would last forever.
“This brings a little sparkle back into their lives after such a tragedy,” Bray said.
Visit foar-attleboro.com to make a donation to the Ariella Marie Memorial Foundation. There is also an Ariella Marie Memorial Foundation Facebook page. For more information on Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood, visit sudc.org.