ST. PETERSBURG, Florida - On the one year anniversary of a murder that shocked a community, St. Petersburg honored Paris Whitehead-Hamilton on Monday by renaming the street she used to live on in her memory.
The 8-year-old girl was fatally shot in the middle of the night last year when her home was riddled with bullets meant for someone else.
Photo Gallery: Street renamed in honor of slain 8-year-old
The family no longer lives at 771 Preston Ave., but a memorial garden - named The Paris Gardens - remains on their old street. Mayor Bill Foster and members of City Council lead a ceremony there Monday morning.
"It's just so much positive support, you can't help but to smile within," said Paris' aunt and guardian, Shenita Williams, in her first television interview since the April 2009 murder.
Williams said she went through depression and needed almost a full year of counseling to start feeling better again. But she's proud of the legacy Paris left behind: awareness of the violence in Midtown and programs to clean up the community.
Williams also plans on moving back into her home in May because she has so many memories there.
"It's not just bad memories, it's good memories," she said. "I lived there 14 years. If I run away, I'm just losing memories. I have a lot of happy memories in that house."
St. Pete City Council passed a resolution on October 15, 2009, calling for the renaming of Preston Ave. in South St. Petersburg.
Monday's street naming ceremony was followed by a celebration of life reception at the Frank W. Pierce Center, 2000 Seventh St. S. At the reception, an art exhibit entitled "Break the Silence" was on displayed.
Noah Pransky, 10 Connects