A red and orange "mailbox of hope" now stands as a lasting memorial in the Outer Banks town of Kitty Hawk to the 4-year-old New Hampshire boy who was swept to sea by a "rogue wave" on April 25.
Wesley Belisle's mother told police a wave knocked her and the boy to the ground and pulled them out to sea as they walked along the beach. Wesley was found five days later on Carova Beach in Currituck County, 34 miles north of the beach in Kitty Hawk where he disappeared.
"Sadly, Mother Ocean took him, and the good Lord brought him home," Kitty Hawk resident Deborah Mennicucci said at a dedication of the mailbox on Thursday, according to a video of the ceremony posted by the Outer Banks Voice.
"Today we are here to heal, we are here to come as a community to love again and bring happiness back to this access," Mennicucci said, according to the video. She was referring to the Lillian Street Beach Access near where Wesley was swept away.
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"It's time. It's time to be happy again. It's time to feel love. It's time to not forget about Wesley and what happened to him."
Mennicucci told TV station WVEC that she hopes people will leave messages on shells or in a journal that's in the mailbox.
She cited a message left in the journal from the Kitty Hawk Fire Department: "May your soul be with God," the message read, according to WVEC. "Your spirit lives with us."
Mennicucci said she and her husband, Dave, will be the keepers of the mailbox,
She came up with the idea based on a similar "Little Red Mailbox" that a woman created in Kill Devil Hills after her mother died, CBS News reported.
"Welcoming this Little Red Mailbox will be the hope we need to get us back and happy, and to remembering this can be a great place to live. Dangerous, but a great place to live," Mennicucci told WTKR, the CBS-TV affiliate in Hampton Roads, Va.
On the side of the mailbox are angel wings painted in orange, Wesley's favorite color, WTKR reported.