ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Surrounded by family, friends and fun, Diamond Reynolds turned the anniversary of a tragic loss into a celebration of a life lived by her boyfriend, Philando Castile.

“He would be more than happy to have these kids here. Some of these kids are from the school that he worked at,” she said.

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Castile was the cafeteria supervisor at a St. Paul school, an occupation not lost on Nyqueela James. She brought her kids to the “Day of Remembrance” event at Como Park, where they enjoyed the bounce house, face painting and dance party.

She also won a drawing of Castile in a raffle, a personal memento of a man she says had a warm heart.

“It means a lot to me,” she said of the picture.

Her son quickly interjected, saying that the picture symbolizes love, a word that resonates with Reynolds.

“That has been what’s holding me up is all of you guys that’s been showing so much love and support for myself and my daughter,” she said to the crowd.

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On July 6, 2016, Reynold’s was riding in a car with Castile and her daughter. During a traffic stop in Falcon Heights, Castile was shot and killed by then St. Anthony police officer Jeronima Yanez.

Last month, he was acquitted of all charges. The verdict only added to Reynold’s pain, and she and her daughter continue to seek therapy. But from this point forward, July 6 won’t be just a day of mourning for her family.

It’s a day of remembrance, faith and gratitude.

“We have life, we have so many other things to be grateful for. We have to live our life for the people that are no longer here to live for (themselves),” she said.

Reynolds plans to host this same event every year on July 6 at Como Park. Castile’s family hosted a private celebration of life at Gibb’s Farm.

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Friday night, they’re hosting a Unity and Peace lantern release starting at 6:30 p.m. near the farm.

Jeff Wagner