Volunteers at Westland Hills Park in Albany have been working hard the past few months getting fields prepped for something other than softball and baseball games.  The crew was busy putting together the plan, and laying out the groundwork on a new Christmas display that will shine bright in honor of those closest to us who may be gone, but not forgotten, called Our Angels Remembered.

Just a few days into their first season, Our Angels Remembered in Albany's Westland Hills has the look and feel of a successful, annual, heartwarming Capital Region event.

Albany resident Dan Farrell, the event coordinator, says that the moment it was announced that volunteers would be planting Christmas trees inside the park on behalf of lost loved ones, people wanted to know more about it.

"We set out to do 100 trees in our first year, and we're already well over 75 and the season just started," he explains.   Each tree costs $75 to sponsor, and after the organizers cover their costs, the rest is invested back to Westland Hills.

Recognizing that the holidays can be especially hard when you're missing a loved one, Farrell set out to make things a little easier by providing some comfort - even if it's for just a few months.  "We all know someone who may need a little help when they're down, and it's tough when there's an empty seat at the table," Farrell says.

Those missing a loved one can honor them by decorating their own Christmas tree within the park and come visit it as much as they'd like. Farrell told us that on Sunday evening during the opening night reveal, people were coming up to him, thanking him and offering hugs.

Some trees have many angels on them representing multiple lost loved ones, while another was adorned in baseball-themed decorations for a beloved, fallen coach in the area.  "Former players," he told me, "decorated one particular Christmas tree with their old baseball scorecards in honor of their coach.

Trees will be on display at Westland Hills now through New Years Day and every tree used in the event is a premium quality balsam fir grown in nearby Vermont, according to the Our Angels Remembered website.

Farrell told us he expects the remaining trees to sell out quickly, and as of Tuesday evening, there were still a few left.  All those who purchase the trees this year, or anyone who can't if they sell out, will have the first right of refusal next.

But in the meantime, a new tradition has been born in Albany and it couldn't have come at a better time.  The holidays are all about giving, receiving, offering, volunteering, and for so many of us, remembering.

Photos from Year One of "Our Angels Remembered" at Westland Hills in Albany

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