CARLISLE, Ky. (LEX 18) — COVID-19 has affected many things this year, but the virus was not going to stop the community of Carlisle from celebrating a young tradition.
If you drive past the town square, you can't miss the dozens of Christmas trees decorating the lawn. From a distance, most look the same. But when you walk closer, you realize each tree is unique.
Each is decorated and dedicated as a memorial to a lost loved one.
"We want everybody to remember our loved ones. We don't just want 'us' to remember them, we want everybody to remember them," said Pam Randolph.
This is the second year Memory Trees have blanketed the courthouse lawn in time for Christmas.
Randolph and Gladys Shrout not only donated trees in honor of their own loved ones, they also organized the Memory Tree lighting.
They saw this as a way to bring the town together, not just physically, but spiritually.
"By (Carlisle) being a small town, we are familiar with almost all of the families, and it's very rewarding to see the people gather around these trees, the families that gather, and decorate these trees," said Shrout.
On Saturday, the trees were lit for the first time in 2020 as part of a socially-distanced celebration of lives.
"And the lights all came on, almost all at the same time, the horns started blowing all around the courthouse to let us know our celebration had been successful," said Shrout.
Of the 191 trees, 190 were donated by members of the community. Some are dedicated to service men and women, others to loved ones who were UK basketball fans, guitar players, and dozens of high school classmates. The 191st tree, the biggest, is considered Jesus's tree. This Christmas, it's also dedicated to victims of the pandemic.
"We've lost three, which probably isn't a whole lot, but for our community it is, and we knew all those people," said Randolph.
The lawn serves as a reminder of how much the town has lost this year, and in years past. But together, the community of Carlisle is lifting the spirits of one another.