NewsCovering Kentucky


Reflecting on memories of Christmas past, as Nicholas County looks forward

Posted at 5:30 PM, Nov 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-24 17:40:31-05

CARLISLE, Ky. (LEX 18) — 250 Christmas trees are now standing on the Nicholas County Courthouse lawn.

These are memory trees dedicated to loved ones who have died.

"It's a tribute to the people who helped raise us and built this community," said Nicholas County Judge-Executive Steve Hamilton.

The tradition dates back to 2019.


"We started out with 80 trees. The next year 191, and this year 250 trees," said Gladys Shrout, one of the organizers.

Shrout says getting the trees to Carlisle was a bigger challenge this year than in either 2019 or 2020.

The order for trees was made months ago, but supply chain issues left a contract unfulfilled and sent organizers scrambling across central Kentucky to find new trees.

On Sunday, the trees were placed on the lawn.


"The trees weren't exactly the quality we wanted, and they're all different sizes, but it didn't matter. The fact was that we got them here in honor of the people that are deceased," said Shrout.

The lights will stay off on most of the trees, with one notable exception: the biggest tree of all. That one sits at the bottom of the courthouse steps. It's dedicated to the victims lost to COVID-19.


"Also, there's a lady's name up there, Debbie Ritchie, that we are honoring. She was our one flood victim that drowned here in Nicholas County during the flood," said Shrout.

Between the pandemic and the historic flood in late July, it's been a difficult 20-month stretch for Nicholas County families. Hamilton says many people are still waiting to find out when, and if, they will get assistance to rebuild or will have to relocate.

"I'm just thankful for our community and everybody working together, and we'll get through this. It's baby steps, you know, a little bit at a time, and we'll make it," said Hamilton.

Struggles of the present remain, but the upcoming Christmas Parade will be a time to pause, to gather, and remember the memories of Christmas past.

"This event is very touching to me. And it really makes me sometimes wanna cry," said Shrout. "So when you see those names, and we place those signs, it gets to your heart."

All trees will be lit on December 4, which is the night of the parade. Shrout says the memory trees may remain on the lawn through mid-January.