OMAHA, Neb. - Parents of the toddler who was killed by an alligator at Walt Disney World in Florida say they will always remember their sweet little boy.
Melissa and Matt Graves spoke to a group of several hundred people gathered at a high school football stadium Saturday to remember Lane Graves on what would have been his third birthday.
Lane died June 14 after an alligator pulled him into a lagoon at Disney’s upscale Grand Floridian Resort.
Neighbors Brandi and Mike Miller organized Saturday’s event at the Elkhorn South High School football field, where hundreds of friends, relatives and supporters stood in a huge heart shape and released nearly 5,000 balloons as a drone snapped an aerial photograph.
Brandi Miller said she wanted to pay tribute to Lane and his family. “I really saw an opportunity for the community to come together and wrap their arms around the family on this day,” she said.
The Omaha World-Herald reports that Melissa Graves said the family wanted to celebrate Lane’s “first birthday in heaven.”
“You’ll always be Mommy’s loving, sweet, baby boy...We miss you, buddy, and we miss those hugs and kisses,” Melissa Graves said.
Matt Graves said Lane’s life brought the family so much joy. The crowd wore blue shirts and released blue balloons into the air.
“My wife will tell you those are the happiest days of her life, and I couldn’t agree with her more,” he said. “Happy birthday, buddy.”
He also said he appreciated all the support the family received from the community after Lane’s death. The family also has a 4-year-old daughter.
The crowd wore blue shirts and released blue balloons into the air.
Matt and Melissa Graves offered M&M cookies because they were Lane’s favorite treat and handed out small silver crosses with blue ribbons attached to a prayer card.
The Graves have said they don’t plan to file a lawsuit against Disney World.
Last month, workers began building a stone wall around the lake where Lane was killed.
Disney officials in Orlando said that the barrier wall is part of the new security plan following the death of 2-year-old Lane. The wall is going up along the beaches of the Seven Seas Lagoon where several resorts are located.
After Lane’s death, Disney World made changes to limit possible visitor contact with alligators on the property.
Rope fences with netting were installed around some waterfront areas, and “No Fishing” signs were installed. Fishing at Disney World was changed to be limited only to excursions.
Copyright (c) 2016 CBS All Rights Reserved