The Central Park Christmas tree has become a pet memorial.

Tucked away in a corner of Central Park lives a tree that, if you walk by at the right time of year, has its secret identity as the Pat Memorial Christmas Tree.

The tree sparkles with hundreds of laminated photos, notes, ornaments and mementos of deceased pets.

There’s Milo, remembered as “a good boy” and the “al dente brothers,” who are “forever cute.” Sherman, the eastern box turtle, is Jio the fish and Miss Parker, the “fearless, independent and entertaining” Central Park squirrel.

Decorated every year. By “Keeper of the Tree” and volunteers, the tree is a public expression of love on display between Thanksgiving and Three Kings Day in January.

Then, the keeper saves each memento, to be placed again the next holiday season.

Dozens of new items for the tree reached On Saturday, as a group led by the Central Park NYC Chapter EverWalk, a Walking initiative In the United States and abroad, hiked through the Ramble to an undisclosed location.

In the crowd, Kendra Olekna, her husband, Robert Foote, and their 1-year-old Pomeranian, Stanisha Rybotska, prepared to hang a memorial to their beloved Jazz, who died a year ago.

Described as a sharp, handsome boy, Jazz was the couple’s best friend and caretaker who loved Mexican restaurants, she said.

Last month, Larry Kloss, a writer and photographer, Posted An article detailing the tree’s history traces it back to the 1980s, when casting director Jason Reddock, who was taking his dog on a ramble, noticed a tree with dog toys on it.

The next day, Mr Reddock was walking his dog again, along with actress Nikki Galas and her dog, when he too saw her. They began the tradition of returning to the tree and bringing their ornaments and souvenirs.

“Since the tree was an evergreen, and since Christmas was only weeks away, the couple decided it was a Christmas tree and thus the Pat Memorial Christmas Tree was born,” Mr. Kloss wrote.

“It’s always very moving and very touching when someone comes and they have, I call them souvenirs, souvenirs,” he said. “You see them put it on the tree, you know, and the tears inevitably follow. And it’s hard to choke under those circumstances.”

The tree’s current keeper, Marianne Larsen, who took over the role from Mr Reddock about five years ago when it became too difficult for him to walk, said the pandemic was a “big trigger” for the images. There was a recent flood.

“In 2020, we added 200 images,” he said. “It was another 200 in ’21, and another 200 in ’22. So now we’re over 600, and I think we can get to at least 750 after today.”

The location of the tree was kept secret for decades and is largely unknown. It has to be met by chance, or someone knowing where to look.

Standing at the tree with her dog Ola on Saturday, Ms. Larsen said part of the joy is discovering the tree.

“You’ll walk by and go, ‘What’s that?'” she said. “And if they take a moment to go inside, they’ll see that it’s a commemorative tree because some people think it’s just a celebratory Christmas tree, but it’s not.”

People moving from New York also stop by during the holidays to see the monuments they left behind, Ms. Larson said.

Kelly Lipson, her fiance, Jorn Santigodes, and their dog, Jax, a 7-year-old Boston terrier mix, walked up to the tree with a photo in hand. Pictured was Nando, the couple’s 5-year-old French bulldog who died of a brain tumor in August.

Ms Lipson said Nando had changed not only her lives but also the lives of other dogs, as his short life had inspired her to start fostering.

“I will never buy another dog again,” she said. “He did a lot of good for the world, so we want to commemorate him.”

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