Central Park is a true New York City gem filled with stunning foliage that changes with the seasons, but this particular tree isn’t only filled with greenery. Hidden in the park unbeknownst to many New Yorkers is the Pet Memorial Christmas Tree where each holiday season the rainbow bridge touches down.
Each year in late November the 18-foot tree comes to life for six to eight weeks, shimmering with hundreds of photos, notes, ornaments, and even toys, serving as memorials to New Yorker’s pets that have crossed the rainbow bridge–so it’s only fitting that the tree is a False Cypress, also known as an arbor vitae, or Tree of Life.
According to The Furever Tree by writer and photographer Larry Closs, the tradition has been going on for four decades, magically appearing and disappearing each holiday season in a location known only to those who are “in search of a place to heal, a place to honor, bless and celebrate all creatures great and small.”
That’s to say there’s some sort of unspoken agreement that the location of the tree remains a mystery.
The Furever Tree writes that while the tree is hung with memorials to mostly dogs and cats, bunnies, birds, horses, hamsters, turtles, fish, and even squirrels are also commemorated on the tree.
Some of the pets are even from other countries, and some of the oldest photos have been hanging on the tree for decades.
The Furever Tree writes:
There’s Leo the Irish Setter, “As big as a lion, as gentle as a lamb,” Peanut the Persian, “An extraordinary, sentient being,” Bailey the Staffie, “The greatest girl there ever was,” and Georgie the Pug, “who lived 9 lives and loved his Teletubbies, meatballs, and his mom. He found joy in the simplest things and taught us how to keep moving forward without feeling sorry for ourselves. He was able to cross speed boating and NYC off his ‘pugket list.’ His love and memory will live with us forever.”
While everyone is welcome to commemorate their own lost pet on the tree, you’ll have to find it for yourself first.
All we know is that the tree is “a ways off the fence-lined path, just far enough that a passerby would likely not even notice it,” according to The Furever Tree. But we do have a tip: try going on a windy day, as you’ll be able to hear fluttering sounds emanating from the tree as the laminated photos twist and turn in the wind.