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Community gathers to remember, celebrate boy killed in car accident


Community gathers to remember, celebrate boy killed in car accident

A Pokémon comforts a child during a memorial for Miles Jenness. Photo by Ellie Ritter

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A Pokémon comforts a child during a celebration to honor the life of Miles Jenness. Photo by Ellie Ritter

Yesterday, the family of Miles Jon Jenness, a 5-year-old who was killed in a Sept. 27 car accident, held a community celebration in Miles’ memory. 

The “Popsicle Pokémon Dance Party Celebration,” as his parents Sam and Leah Jenness called it, took place at McKoy Park. Hundreds of people – friends, family, classmates, teachers and community members – joined to honor Miles’ life.

As a way to “put some joy back into the world,” the celebration included music, popsicles, food, Pokémon-themed items and even an appearance by Pikachu. Guests could also write notes to Miles, which were tacked up to a board with photos from his life.

Many guests were kids who knew Miles, through the neighborhood, his Montessori school or from Winnona Park Elementary, where he was in kindergarten. While the circumstances were tough, his mom appreciated seeing the children playing and having fun. 

“I’m thankful for the kids who came today. Kiddo energy is really the best energy,” she said as she and her husband thanked the community for coming and supporting them. 

Miles’ mom and dad speak during a gathering held in honor of their son. Photo by Ellie Ritter

One parent, Leyla, came with her daughters to support Leah and Sam. A fellow Winnona Park mom, she had come to know their family.

“[Leah] was the first mom I met at Winnona Park’s orientation, and she was just so kind and friendly,” she said. “This is so sad and frustrating because it could have happened to any of us.”

Among the many children at the celebration were some of Miles’ classmates from his class with Laura Pitts. His classmates each colored in Pokémon coloring pages, which they assembled on a wall at the park to spell his name.

“Miles was a really good friend to me,” his classmate Lily said. “He was funny and liked to tell jokes. One time, I got hurt and he came and checked to see if I was okay. He was really nice to everybody, always.”

For Leah, his mom, the celebration offered a heartwarming sense of light in what has been a dark time in her life.

“My heart felt so empty, and walking up to this, seeing all these kids and families, filled it right back up,” she said. 

Photo by Ellie Ritter

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