Remembering Megan with joy

City residents are invited to celebrate the reopening of a tiny tot playground created in memory of a local youngster.

Three-year-old Megan Gunderson was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver in front of her Queensborough home in June 1996. Following her tragic death, the community rallied together to raise close to $100,000 for new playground equipment in her memory.

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"It's a place where we really feel Meggie's always thought of," said grandma Dolly Gunderson, a longtime Queensborough resident.

A toddler playground seemed like a fitting memorial for the young girl, who loved her daily visits to Ryall Park with family members. The Gunderson family normally has a playground cleanup of Megan's Place every June, but this year they'll be celebrating the refurbishment of the playground.

"It is quite beautiful," Gunderson said. "We are going to celebrate our park, our children, our future."

The city included $135,000 in its 2012 budget to completely renovate Megan's Place.

The community is invited to attend the Megan's Place tiny tot playground picnic and children's festival on Sunday, June 24 from 11: 30 a.m. to 3: 30 p.m. The free event will feature live entertainment, interactive fun and games, cake, a speech by Les Gunderson (Megan's grandpa) and a reading of a poem by Grace Coleman.

"Every year my sister writes a poem for Megan," Gunderson said. "She will do another one."

The festival is being put on by the Queensborough Community Centre and the Queensborough special programs committee.

Megan had been gardening with her mother, who ran inside to get a hat to protect her blonde head from the sun. It's believed the little girl then saw a van that looked like her father's and ran out towards the vehicle, probably thinking her dad was coming home.

"The van pulled over," Gunderson said. "The witness said she looked out and took off."

To date, no one has been charged in connection to the hit and run, and the police file remains open. Prompted by an anonymous tip, the police and Megan's family made a public appeal in the summer of 2010. They asked the tipster and the driver to come forward and identify themselves.

A woman in her mid to late 30s with brown hair was seen driving a 1990s red Dodge Caravan or Plymouth Voyager at the time of the accident.

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