ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Around 100 Christmas trees dot the Westland Hills baseball field in Albany. Each tree a memorial for loved ones lost who are not able to join their families this holiday season.
“Our first tree is for my mother, who we lost in May at 92-years old. Unfortunately, our family experienced more tragedy, my brother Joe, my oldest brother, passed away two days before my mother,” says Paul Zullo of Albany, “so we have a tree in honor of them. And the other tree is for my son Tanner who I lost to leukemia in 2004.”
For some families, the holidays can be a difficult time with an empty seat at the table, especially if this is the first Christmas without them. “It’s going to be the year of firsts. And I’m accustomed to that, especially with my son. It’s been 17 years. But I think it’s a nice way to carry on tradition,” Zullo says.
The trees will remain lit each night until Christmas. Event organizer Dan Farrell says Westland Hills wanted to do something to show people their loved ones are with them during the holidays, even if not in physical form.
“The holidays can definitely be tough. I lost my mom four years ago and having an event where we can come and see the tree and my family can come and see the tree helps us feel a little closer to her,” Farrell says, “we can put her favorite decorations on them. A lot of the people who put trees here today are all celebrating someone different. Everyone has a different story.”
Farrell says they have raised over $5,000 for all the 100 trees people sponsored in memory of their loved ones. He says there are still some trees left if someone wants to sponsor one. The trees cost $75 and can be sponsored on their website.