Community rallying around memory of Willow Long

WTHI Photo / Tony Kassissieh
WTHI Photo / Tony Kassissieh

EFFINGHAM COUNTY, Ill. (WTHI) – A community is rallying around the memory of a little girl with the construction and dedication of a new park.

You may remember the story of Willow Long – she was murdered and it was her uncle who was charged with the crime after he plead guilty in March to murdering her.

While this may have happened in the small town of Watson, Ill., it was a story that grabbed national attention.

Provided Photo
Provided Photo

Now, that town is planning something special in her memory.

For months volunteers have been working, building and crafting a new park they will name ‘Willow Long Park.’

They’ve hosted numerous events to raise money for the park and later this month, they look forward all that money paying off. They’ll officially dedicate and open the park to the community on May 24. However, they’re still in need of monetary donations.

“We’ve gotten some park benches donated. We have different things that we want to put up. We still need to put up some more the springy animal rides for the kids up, and basically a lot of the landscaping still needs to be done as well,” DeAnna McWilliams, the chairperson of the project told News 10.

If you’d like to help, visit their Facebook page, or call 217-663-3137. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you confirm your email address and acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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