OCEANSIDE — The Libby Lake community will hold its annual Celebration of Life at its neighborhood park this Saturday. The event remembers teenage victims who were gunned down at the park, and celebrates the resilience and vitality of the community.
Part of this year’s celebration is the unveiling of a second community mural created within the park.
The new “Celebration of Youth” mural poignantly stands across the lake from the site of the fatal gang shootings that occurred in 2013 and 2011. Creating the mural is one of the ways community members have taken back the park over the years.
“Family members of the victims and engaged community members are helping to create the mural,” Salvador Roman, Vista Community Clinic Project REACH youth program supervisor, said. “We hope that it resembles a symbol of hope for many generations to come.”
The mural project was spearheaded by Project REACH students, and completed with the help of cement work donated by Black Lion Concrete Inc., guidance from artists Victor Ochoa and Melba Novoa, and grant-funded paints and supplies.
It stands as a permanent reminder of the community’s support for its youth.
“This year, like always, we want our youth to know that they are our future and that we believe in them,” Roman said.
Losses from the shootings continue to be felt citywide.
“The Oceanside Police Department worked tirelessly on both of those cases to bring those who were responsible to justice,” Oceanside Police Lt. Aaron Doyle said. “Since the arrest and convictions of those who committed the murders, OPD has continued to work with the community around Libby Lake Park to assist in the healing process and bring a sense of security back to the community.”
The planned event is meant to be upbeat and positive.
“The Celebration of Life event is a way for the citizens of that community to come together in a peaceful environment to celebrate the beauty and value of life,” Doyle said. “It is an opportunity for healing and reflection,” he added.
The celebration includes food, music, information booths on community resources, a soccer tournament, and activities led by REACH students. Roman said participating in the annual event generates a lot of pride in students.
Goals for the gathering are to increase family and community bonds.
“The event hopes to remind our youth of their incredible potential, encourage parents to stay involved in their children’s’ lives from pre-school to high school, and enjoy partnerships between families and community agencies,” Roman said.
Roman added there continues to be fear in the community, but Oceanside Police have helped ease the minds of residents with positive community outreach.
Police will participate in Saturday’s celebration with officers in attendance, tours of the Mobile Command Vehicle, an information booth, and K-9 demonstrations.
Officers also connect with residents throughout the year at community events and outreaches.
“We meet with community members, city leaders, and faith based organizations on a weekly basis to discuss issues that are occurring throughout the city and help to figure out ways to address them,” Doyle said.
“We believe that our relationship with the community is stronger than ever. As an organization we continue to build relationships and value input from those we serve.”
The annual Celebration of Life is hosted by Vista Community Clinic Project REACH, and supported by the city of Oceanside and Oceanside Police.
It takes place March 11, from noon to 3 p.m. at Libby Lake Park, 504 Calle Montecito. The event is free, and all are welcome.