When Bernie Ward's friends, sons, soccer players and others released 51 green and white balloons into the sky Friday, they astonishingly flew over Tunxis Mead in a pack.
It was appropriate way to celebrate what would have been his 51st birthday for a man who devoted so much time to fostering teams.
Many of his players, some who he'd coached since they were in kindergarten, and their parents gathered around the rock memorial to Ward near the large restroom building. His wife, sons and dog were also present.
Green and white were the colors Ward's favorite Scottish professional soccer team, the Celtics and therefore many of his own teams.
The brief tribute kicked off the Bernie Ward Labor Day Shootout, which starts Saturday. Ward was a longtime director for the tournament and boys soccer coach.