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Tree lighting honors lives lost in community of Berlin

Published: Nov. 19, 2020 at 8:49 PM CST
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BERLIN, Wis. (WBAY) - A holiday event in Berlin kicked off for another year Thursday night. The hope is, it will put people in the spirit of the season despite the onling COVID-19 pandemic. But “Light the Park” also remembers lives lost.

After a quick countdown, the lights went on at Nathan Strong Park, where a variety of trees is on display. Each one is sponsored by a different person or organization, and many serve as a memorial.

“My sister, Kathy, was killed in a car accident, so I’ve been having all the angels on the tree,” Sue Trampf, Chair of Achieving a Better Community Inc., showed us. “This is my angel tree, and I’ve been doing this ever since she died.”

The holiday event was launched 12 years ago and has expanded quite a bit since.

“Light the Park” founder Harry Kwidzinski said, “We started with seven trees. They were lined up right here by the gazebo. We went to 30 trees the next year, 80 the year after, and now we’ve been about a hundred every year. This year we have about 124.”

Organizers say all the trees are purchased ahead of time and then put up for adoption.

Mary Frens is taking part this year for the very first time and dedicated a tree to her late husband, Lauren. “This tree is dedicated and has all my grandkids on here and my daughter, and he loved those grandkids, that was his life,” she said.

For many, it’s also a chance to symbolize a loss that’s especially apparent during the holidays.

“I can bring my chair here when it’s nice and just sit here and relax and feel closer to him,” Frens said.

Each night the trees will light up around 5 o’clock. The display -- which is free -- runs through January 9.

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