In 1945, following the end of WWII, Mrs. Stephen C. Clark and some of her friends who had also lost sons and daughters in that war, installed lighted trees along Park Avenue as a memorial not only to their children, but to those from throughout the city who had given their lives. These trees were first lighted on Dec. 17, 1945, and dedicated to the memory of those who had died in all of our country's wars. Subsequently, they became known as the Park Avenue Memorial Trees.
During her lifetime, Mrs. Clark underwrote a large portion of their cost. Eventually their support was by donation from a larger base of generous donors, although Mrs. Clark continued to cover any deficit until her death in the late '60s. Thereafter, the old Park Avenue Association (discontinued in 1982) collected donations from those anxious to maintain the tradition. In 1981, the Park Avenue Malls Planting Project and Mrs. Albert D. Lasker continued the effort, under the name of Park Avenue Holiday Lighting.
The cherry and hawthorn trees growing on the avenue were strung with lights beginning in 1982 as a celebration of Hanukkah. In more recent years, the memorial has expanded to involve and celebrate all faiths, while furthering the cause of peace and invoking reverence for those who have sacrificed their lives.
On the first Sunday in December, many New Yorkers of all ages come to Park Avenue and 91st Street to see performances by the Children's Choir of the Brick Church and the US Army Band. The musical program closes with "Taps", played by a single trumpet. A hushed audience can give silent thanks in the very still night before the dedication and the lighting of two and a half miles of Memorial Trees.
On Park Avenue from 97th Street to 48th Street.