The recent Memorial Day holiday tends to get people thinking about lives lost. Traditionally, it brings about memories of those who died in active military service. Whatever the circumstance, it is a day that reminds us to honor loved ones who are no longer with us.
Some families choose to commemorate those individuals using different methods, such as the Batavia Park District Memorial Program. The program offers uplifting ways to celebrate the life of a loved one or express sympathy or condolences for the loss of a friend, family member or pet. Options include planting a tree, installing a bench, or getting a brick at the Bark Park through the Pet Memorial Program.
Although it was not because of active duty, I lost my older brother when I was just 13 years old. A few years after he passed away, my family worked with our local park district to plant a tree in his honor at a park near our home. Now, more than 20 years later, the tree has grown and thrived, and we are thankful to have a living remembrance of him. It has provided a place to visit and remember him, and has provided the park with another beautiful tree that can be enjoyed by future generations.
Before the program existed in Batavia, the Park District received multiple requests to offer a similar program that was available in other communities. It’s been nearly five years since the program launched.
“The program is not just for memorializing those that have passed away, but also for celebrating those who are still in our lives. How great would it be to plant a tree to honor the birth of a child and see that tree grow together with them over the years,” said director of capital project and contractual services Jim Eby, who manages the Park District’s Memorial Program.
One example of this stewardship is a swamp white oak tree that was planted at the Batavia Riverwalk thanks to a donation from the Batavia Woman’s Club Conservation and Garden Department to the Plain Dirt Gardeners organization. The Plain Dirt Gardeners manage the native plants along the Riverwalk and were thrilled to accept the donation.
“Both organizations are promoting the further beautification of the Batavia Riverwalk, not just today, but for the community to enjoy for hundreds of years,” said Sarah Kimber, steward of the Wildflower Sanctuary at the Batavia Riverwalk.
The Park District also recognizes that for many people, pets are family, too. The Pet Memorial Program was launched in 2015, allowing owners to commemorate their furry friend through a bench, memorial brick or piece of agility equipment to be installed at the Batavia Bark Park.
Andrea Dugger recently bought a brick for her weimaraner, Lexi, who is alive and well. Dugger moved to Batavia last year to live with her parents after becoming disabled. She formerly had been very active with Lexi, who boasts seven distinguished titles to her name, and was elated when they discovered the Bark Park.
“That park has been the best thing that ever happened to us,” Dugger said. “It allowed me and Lexi to get outside and be active again. I also wanted to celebrate all of Lexi’s accomplishments and knowing that the funds from the memorial brick helped support the park and contribute towards more pet events, it was win-win for everyone.”
To learn more about the Batavia Park District’s memorial and pet memorial programs, visit www.bataviaparks.org.
Katie Drum is the director of marketing and public relations for the Batavia Park District. The “Park District Dish” column runs the second Thursday of each month in the Kane County Chronicle. Contact Drum at email@example.com.