Angel of Hope breaks ground

Parks Director Don Seal, Mayor John Ditslear, Parks Board President Ann Minnich and Kirk Forbes break ground for the Angel of Hope memorial in Forest Park. (Submitted photo)

Parks Director Don Seal, Mayor John Ditslear, Parks Board President Ann Minnich and Kirk Forbes break ground for the Angel of Hope memorial in Forest Park. (Submitted photo)

With the turn of four shovels, the three-year-old dream of one Noblesville family came true on Sept. 17. Joined by local officials, Kirk Forbes broke ground on the Angel of Hope memorial in Noblesville’s Forest Park. Forbes said the memorial garden is “to help all parents in our community who have lost children.”

“It has begun,” he said, pausing. “This is the most important project I’ve worked on in my life, hands down.”

There are 118 Angel of Hope memorials in the United States. Indiana has six with the closest one in Hendricks County.

“Our vision is a quiet and healing place where parents and families can remember their children. A memorial to children who once played here. Though they are absent from our lives and our community, they will be remembered for many years to come,” Forbes said.

The memorial will center around the Angel of Hope statue, which will stand about 7-feet tall. It will be an octagon shape measuring 48-feet across with bricks engraved with children’s names and messages from families and friends radiating out from the angel. Three large flower pots will hold planted flowers to celebrate the children’s lives. Surrounding the brick memorial will be bushes and trees. The entire memorial will be illuminated by a lighting system. A 60-foot path will lead from the main park walking path to the memorial.

Forbes said the $125,000 project has received $45,000 in cash and pledges since fundraising began in July. Three companies – Gaylor Electric, Daystar Boring and Beaver Materials – are providing in-kind donations. Forbes said there are still several items needing financial support including the base, $9,000; two of seven trees, $500 each; nighttime lighting, $2,500; seven of eight landscape sectors, $600; and memorial bricks, $100.

“This is going to be especially beneficial for the community,” he said. “You see it in their (parents and family members) eyes.”

Forbes said the project will begin ground preparation in mid-October. The Angel of Hope statue and base will be set in April and a formal dedication is planned for May.

“The Noblesville Parks Board and Don Seal have been incredibly supportive in this project. I cannot say enough good things about both groups,” Forbes said.

Seal, Noblesville Parks director, said the memorial was something different for the parks system.

“It’s an appropriate use for a public park,” he said. “The more we looked at it, we understood the feeling of how important Forest Park has been for their families. It became obvious this was the place for it to be.”

Seal said the original proposed location for the site was close to Forest Park Aquatic Center but the sounds from traffic on Ind. 19 led organizers to move locations. Seal said its current location is more secluded.

“It’s highly underutilized area of the park,” he said, “and reasonably quiet.”

For more information, call 695-3551 or visit www.angelofhope.info or the Angel of Hope Memorial-Noblesville Indiana Facebook page.