Memory Tree memorializes lost loved ones

Published 9:52 am Saturday, December 4, 2021

JENNINGS — The Carnegie Public Library, 303 N. Cary Avenue, is continuing its holiday tradition with a special way to honor loved ones.

The Memory Tree, draped with colored lights and special ornaments, stands in the foyer to memorialize those who have died over the years.

“It’s such a great way to remember those we have known and those we have loved,” Library Director Harriet Schultz said. “They will never be forgotten as long as we have this tree.”

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Angels, Santas, snowmen, red cardinals, red and gold balls are among the hundreds of ornaments that adorn the 8-foot tree that greets visitors to the library. Names are printed on special tags attached to each ornament.

“Many of these ornaments represent the hobbies and things the people loved, including their pets,” she said.

This year’s tree holds 364 special ornaments.

“It looks like we will run out of room every year, but we always have room,” Schultz said. “These ornaments will stay on the tree every year as long as we continue the tradition and I hope that is for a very long time.”

The tree has already stood for over 30 years.

Schultz said many visitors and long-time patrons visit the tree each year to remember friends and family members who are no longer here.

“To me this is my favorite display,” she said. “It’s just something for our community to enjoy and come in during the holiday season and see. It’s a mixture of feelings remembering those friends and family that have passed away.”

Among the earliest ornaments are ones honoring former Jennings mayor John Conner and former clerk of court Clarphy Pitre.

An old tin barn honors beloved rancher and dentist Dr. Barry Petry who died in November.

The ornaments offer an opportunity for families who have lost loved ones to keep their memories alive, Schultz said. Each year she hangs ornaments in memory of her mother and some of the library staff who have passed over the years.

“People come in here and they start looking at it and finding someone’s name up there,” she said. “It means a lot to them to know family members are remembered and not forgotten.”

The Carnegie Library is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday.