In the center of a crowd at the end of Suburban Drive, George and Cindy Anthony shared an emotional embrace on the day that would have been granddaughter Caylee's sixth birthday.
It was one of many poignant moments on Tuesday afternoon, as more than a hundred mourners gathered to remember the toddler, whose death three years ago became a national obsession.
"This is the first time I've been here in so long," George Anthony told reporters a few feet from where his granddaughter's body was found. "It's hard to come here."
The purpose of the gathering, beyond remembering Caylee, was to unveil plans to create a memorial in her honor in the woods where her body was found.
The memorial was the brainchild of Bring Kids Home, a national organization for missing and abused children, which teamed with local artist Jefrė to develop a design.
The Anthonys' attendance surprised many, and they quickly became the guests of honor. Cindy participated in a butterfly release she called the butterflies thoughtful and "a symbol for Caylee."
The couple then led a march to the end of Suburban, where those in attendance released dozens of balloons, as did the Anthonys. As they walked, many sang happy birthday to Caylee.
The weather cooperated Wednesday night as thousands of Joplin area schoolchildren and their families converged on the Missouri Southern State University campus for the I Am Joplin event.
The event aimed to reconnect students with their classmates and educators before the first day of school on Aug. 17 and in the wake of the May 22 tornado.
"(The students) wanted to come mainly because they wanted to see their teachers, and I think for them it's just more of a normalcy," said Rhonda Scroggins, who attended with her family.
"They're getting excited about school," she said. "It means a lot for them and for the community. It's a nice way to make it a little more normal."
Scroggins and her family moved to a temporary house in Neosho after their Joplin home was destroyed in the tornado. Her children attended Irving Elementary School, which also was destroyed. The Scroggins family just got the building permits to start on rebuilding its home, which will stand on the same plot as the old one.
Her son, Andrew, a fourth-grader, said he liked the bounce houses at the event.
Libby Turner, a federal coordinating officer for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, was on hand at the event. She said FEMA developed a task force within a week of the tornado to help the schools with planning for temporary locations.
"If schools are up and running, then families will stay in the community," Turner said. "This event tonight will be a real milestone in recovery for the community and for the students, and to do this a week before school starts is terrific. Tonight is about this community coming together."
Activities in the fields around Fred G. Hughes Stadium included face painting, disc golf, inflatable bounce houses, carnival games, giveaways and a butterfly release of 1000 butterflies!.
Afterward in the stadium, events included a memorial video for those who were lost in the tornado, a moment of silence and butterfly release, prayers for the school year, and a speech by Superintendent C.J. Huff.
More than 30 organizations had booths at the event, giving away prizes and literature about support services available in the community.
"We saw that kids and everyone had anxiety and stress and the pressure, and we thought this city needs to have a good time, needs to be reunited, needs to have some peace about where their school is going to be," said Melissa Winston, one of the event organizers. "We want our students to just play together, to see their teachers and to create an atmosphere that's just fun."
Members of the Union Congregational Church on West Britannia Street in Taunton took time after Sunday's service for a colorful, symbolic release of butterflies.
"A butterfly is symbolic of new life," said Pastor Lee Vermont, who has led the flock for three years. "The butterfly symbolizes new life in Christ. He is alive."
The idea was put forth by congregation member Elayne Ingalls, who heard about a similar event last year at the Trinitarian Church in Norton.
"I followed through on it," Ingalls said. "We had a wonderful Sunday. We prayed for good weather and it came true. I liked the idea of releasing them and watching them fly, watching life come together. It seems like a church activity that would be fun to do. And it was pretty."
Ingalls said members of the church planted flowers in the yard behind the building to welcome the butterflies. More than 20 children sported expansive smiles as they and their parents released a total of 80 butterflies around 11:30 a.m.
The children lingered as the colorful insects fluttered around, some landing on unsuspecting shoulders.
Aracely Alicea, 7, held one butterfly out on a finger for her mother to see.
"The kids were looking forward to this day forever," said Taunton's Manuela Alicea, Aracely's mother. "They loved it. It was great."
Ingalls said the butterflies were ordered online from the Florida-based Butterfly Release Company. The company offers both Monarch butterflies and another variety called Painted Ladies, with many of them sold for use during wedding ceremonies.
The butterflies arrived in envelopes and were kept cool with ice packs during delivery.
Vermont added that the butterfly release could serve as inspiration for those "struggling in a spiritual sense" to put their faith in the Christian belief about the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
A poem, written by congregation member Valerie Grenier, was read before the butterfly release.
"Butterfly, butterfly we've been waiting for this day," the poem read. "Now stretch your wings and fly this way. What a beautiful sight to behold, when God's creations begin to unfold."
Contact Marc Larocque at email@example.com.
-Copyright 2011 The Taunton Gazette. Some rights reserved
This year's Pink Ribbon Walk for breast cancer awareness was a big success, bringing in $40,000 -- the highest amount ever from the annual event.
Now, organizers of the walk are giving the money they raised to a local charity.
Welborn said the money will be used "to assist local patients while undergoing treatment, research, awareness and scholarships."
She said she's happy that the money raised will stay in Brevard County.
The check presentation is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Milliken's Reef, in the Cove at Port Canaveral.
Welborn has raised a total of $95,000 in the last three years, including the $40,000 from this year's walk.
By PHILLIP RAMATI firstname.lastname@example.org
For more than 100 Girl Scouts, Sunday's trek along the nature trails at the Museum of Arts and Sciences wasn't only a chance to celebrate the organization's 100-year anniversary.
It also was a chance to learn about nature -- specifically, how butterflies live in the natural world.
Six Girl Scouts were randomly selected to release about 500 American Painted Lady butterflies into the forest, followed by everyone singing "Happy Birthday" to the organization that was founded by Juliette Gordon Low in Savannah in 1912.
Blair Train, fund development manager for the Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia, said the idea to release the butterflies came from the Girl Scouts council as something different to celebrate the anniversary.
"This is a very good setting with all of the plants here," Train said. "This is the first one we've ever done. ... It's something we can make fun and educational. The girls can get ideas which plants attract butterflies."
Organizers chose American Painted Ladies, or Vanessa virginiensis as they are scientifically known, because they are common in North America, especially in Georgia and throughout the Southeast.
The butterflies, with brown, fuzzy bodies and orange-and-black wings, only live for a short time.
As caterpillars, they feed on a variety of plants, including aster, dill, foxglove, snapdragon, sunflower and many others.
Delaney Pearson, 7, of Milledgeville, was one of the six girls selected to open the boxes and release the butterflies. She was happy to be chosen because "I wanted to see them fly away," she said.
She said there are a lot of aspects of being a Girl Scout she enjoys.
"I like helping people," she said, adding that camping is one of her favorite activities. "I like spending time with my friends."
Her mother, Brooke, serves as troop leader and also was a Scout herself.
"I think (Delaney) gets a lot as far as leadership skills," she said. "She gets to spend a lot of time with her friends, and they learn how to work together as a team. ... It's great because of all the activities they get to do. ... I was a Girl Scout, and I had a great experience. I want my girls to have the same experience."
As the butterflies flew out of the boxes, many of the girls squealed with delight as butterflies landed on them. One girl held a butterfly on the edge of her finger, saying "That tickles!" over and over, while other shouts included "There's one on your hat!" and "One landed on my head -- again!"
The girls also made butterflies out of coffee filters and got to tour the grounds with Georgia Master Gardeners as their tour guides. Jackie Harper, one of the master gardeners, said they explained to the girls how butterflies eat and survive in the wild.
"I think being exposed to the garden's life is important," she said. "A lot of (the garden) occurs naturally, with non-invasive plants. We're showing them that (the garden) sustains not only butterflies, but other forms of life."
Why throw confetti, or release balloons that can be harmful? "Wedding butterflies are something unique that is quickly becoming a tradition." USA online. To have a butterfly wedding and adding live butterflies is becoming more and more popular. Be sure to be a smart consumer and research your breeder and make sure they are a breeder, not a middle man. Find out how long they've been in business. The last thing a bride wants is to get a call the day before saying they will not be getting wedding butterflies.