Sunday, February 3, 2008

Parade Float Accident New Hampshire

Parade Float Accident New Hampshire

By Adam Leech
December 16, 2007 6:30 AM

PORTSMOUTH — Of the many trees on Peirce Island, one stands out among the rest.

Just beyond the pool stands a white fir adorned with Christmas decorations seemingly without an owner. But upon closer inspection, a granite marker below it reveals the owner. This is Thomas' tree.

But a group of local dog walkers — just about the only people who go out to the island during the winter months — have made it their own. Over the past month, they've progressively added more and more decorations to the tree in memory of Thomas Fogarty, who died at age 9 after falling off the Cub Scout float he was riding on in the 2006 Holiday Parade.

"Someone put one bulb on the tree and we all walk our dogs down there, so we passed the word along. And more decorations went up," said Steven Marison, a dog walker from Portsmouth. "We just thought the family would appreciate it ... we wanted them to know people are thinking about them."

Brian and Debbie Fogarty got their first glimpse of the tree on Thursday — two weeks after the one-year anniversary of Thomas' death. While their grieving is ongoing, the couple has been continually amazed by acts of kindness and remembrance by people in their hometown of Greenland and throughout the Seacoast.

The tree was dedicated to Thomas in July by the city Trees and Greenery Committee.

Brian said Thomas loved Christmas, so decorating the tree is very appropriate and very much appreciated.

"It's very sweet," Debbie said. "It's so nice of them to do this."

"We've been out a few times since (the dedication), but we haven't had the chance to get out here that much lately," Brian said. "But this is a good reason to come back out."

Brian and Debbie walked with their 8-year-old son Andrew in this year's Holiday Parade, along with members of Thomas' old Cub Scout pack who were there when the accident occurred.

Andrew, who is a Cub Scout, really wanted to be part of the parade, Debbie said, and so did they.

"For me, I didn't know how I was going to react, but I wanted us to be part of it," Brian said. "It was good. It was a great feeling because we got back together as a group with the Scouts and I thought it was important for us to do that."

Brian said the Fogartys continue to be surprised by the number of gestures and dedications to Thomas, some they don't know about until well after the fact. Recently, a bench in Remembrance Park — across the street from Greenland Central School, where Thomas was a student — was dedicated to Thomas, not far from another tree planted by his old Cub Scout pack in his memory.

"I'm sure there's a lot of things people have done that we don't know about, which is fine," Brian said. "But the fact that people are doing things in memory of somebody they've never met, I find that amazing."

Before they left the island, Brian and Debbie hung one more ornament — the same one Thomas made for them in first grade with his picture in it.

"That way, people who come here," Debbie said, "this is for them to see who Thomas was."

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