The Lions Club of Elmira will hold a pair of dedication services this weekend at their memorial forests in Woolwich Township. It marks the return of in-person activities since the pandemic-led hiatus.
On Saturday at 10:30 a.m., there’ll be a service at the forest in the Breslau area adjacent to the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides facility there.
The following day, Sunday, will see the focus shift to the Elmira Memorial Forest with a service at 1:30 p.m.
While there were virtual ceremonies for the Breslau location during the pandemic, the Elmira function will be covering all those who passed during the COVID-19 shutdown, said club member Art Woods.
“We did them out at Breslau virtually, so it’s just the one year – it’s about 70 trees for the current year. In Elmira, we did not do them, so we’re covering the past three years – 2020, 2021 and 2022 – so 110 trees, roughly,” he said, noting the Elmira service will also include acknowledging the benches that have been installed along the Elmira Lions Ring Trail in memory of loved ones.
“It’s high time we thank the people who bought benches. I can’t believe how the bench program has taken off. I’ve now sold 20 of them over the last four years.”
The Elmira Lions Club created the memorial forest along the Kissing Bridge Trailway in 2001, planting trees at the behest of families in memory of their loved ones. The club planted 316 trees initially before turning to municipal open space in the new subdivision following a 2012 agreement with the township, though the club is still waiting for that development to move forward. Today, there are 685 trees at the Elmira location, with the club currently seeking more space for future plantings.
The Breslau location is much larger, with some 3,400 trees having been planted to date, and with plenty of room to grow.
Woods said he’s not sure how many people will turn out now that the services have returned to in-person gatherings. The Breslau service would typically see about 350 to 400, while the Elmira one would get about 100 to 125.
“I don’t know this year how the response will be when it’s over three years.”
Both events are open to the public. In Breslau, they’ll be gathering at the large, visible gazebo-style shelter. In Elmira, they’re at the east side of Homer’s Lane, off of Snyder Avenue North.