It was a day no South Floridian will ever forget.
On February 14, 2018, 17 students and staff members were shot and killed in their classrooms by a lone gunman — a former student — at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Seventeen more innocent people were injured in the massacre.
One year later, the Parkland community continues to heal.
As the tragedy's Valentine's Day anniversary approaches, it’s time to reflect on and honor those lost, support those still standing, and contribute to positive change. As many throughout the country pause to honor the Parkland community, here are six events that you may partake in, right here in our backyard:
1. Art, Play, Love: A Day Dedicated to the Community at the Coral Springs Museum of Art. While darkness may have reigned on February 14, 2018, love will unquestionably prevail one year later. The Coral Springs Museum of Art will be a haven for relaxation and reflection on Thursday, with a community canvas art-making activity and companion animals, including micro-bunnies and mini-pigs, to help lift spirits. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, February 14, at Coral Springs Museum of Art, 2855 Coral Springs Dr., Ste. A, Coral Springs; coralspringsmuseum.org. Admission is free.
2. Interfaith Ceremony at Pine Trails Park. Parkland’s picturesque park will be open from noon to 10 p.m. on Thursday with counselors and therapy dogs available on-site throughout the day. At 5:45 p.m., there will be an interfaith service. Rather than mementos, guests are encouraged to bring a canned food item to donate. 5:45 p.m. Thursday, February 14, at Pine Trails Park, 10559 Trails End, Parkland; browardschools.com. Admission is free.
3. Prayer Vigil in Pembroke Pines. Among the several communities throughout the U.S. that will pause for Parkland on Thursday is our very own Pembroke Pines. At 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, the city will hold a prayer vigil at the always-picturesque and inviting Charles F. Dodge Center. 6:30 p.m. Thursday, February 14, at Charles F. Dodge City Center, 601 City Center Way, Pembroke Pines; ppines.com. Admission is free.
4. David Best’s Temple in Coral Springs. Artist David Best’s pinewood temples have lit the Burning Man landscapes in Nevada. Now a massive wooden structure is being built in Coral Springs to ultimately be burned and honor the victims in Parkland. You can check out its construction beginning on Thursday and continuing through May. Thursday, February 14, through May at 9551 W. Sample Rd., Coral Springs. The temple will be burned in May on a date to be announced. Admission is free.
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5. The Chris Hixon Memorial Run/Walk in Hollywood. Chris Hixon is the definition of a hero. During the assault at MSD, he ran toward the shooter to try to stop him. He was a coach, a dad, and he served in the Navy. On Saturday morning, his friends, family, and community will honor him with a 5K and walk at Charnow Park in Hollywood. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Chris Hixon Athletic Scholarship Fund. 7 a.m. Saturday, February 16, at Charnow Park, 300 Connecticut St., Hollywood; runsignup.com. Tickets
6. The MSD Heroes Challenge in Parkland. In 2018, community activists Doug Eaton, Manny Mair, Amy Kenny and Debra Hixon created a Heroes Challenge, designed to bring together communities throughout South Florida. The family-friendly event features a two-mile race and all kinds of fun obstacles before you reach the finish line. Funds raised from the event will benefit a number of nonprofits including Stand with Parkland and the National Association of Families for Safe Schools. 6:30 a.m. Saturday, February 23, at Parkland Equestrian Center, 8350 Ranch Rd., Parkland; active.com. Registration for events ranges from $15 to $25.