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News, Holiday, Santa Monica

Tree Of Life In Its 5th Year At Woodlawn Cemetery

Woodlawn Cemetery’s Tree of Life.
Courtesy Photo
Woodlawn Cemetery’s Tree of Life.

Posted Dec. 30, 2011, 1:14 am

Christopher Peak

A 16-foot cedar tree stands in the middle of Woodlawn Cemetery’s mausoleum, transformed into a living memorial for those who have passed.

During the holiday season, Woodlawn Cemetery runs a special program called Tree of Life. Now in its fifth year, the program offers a place where friends and family members can honor their loved ones.

Benjamin Steers, Acting Cemetery Administrator, said stickers and ornaments are offered to visitors to adorn the tree.

The service is particularly important during the season of the holidays, when many people remember their loved ones yet find it difficult to mourn.

“We’re open to anyone who wants to come,” Steers said. “It’s a tradition for many people to visit us this time of year.”

On Christmas Eve, nearly 50 ornaments with hand-written messages decorated the tree.

In previous years, the trees have been planted within cemetery grounds, but this year there might not be enough room.

Instead, the tree could be used to replace a diseased or missing tree somewhere within the city. It will most likely be placed as a street tree, said Walt Warriner, the city’s Community Forester.

“When we plant the tree adjacent to a property, we always let the residents know about its significance,” Warriner said.

“The tree will be around for a long time to come.”

Purchased by the city in 1897, Woodlawn Cemetery is home to some of California’s most famous historical figures, including actor Glenn Ford, preservationist Leo Carillo, and Venice founder Abbott Kinney.

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