80ºF

Veteran’s Christmas tree unites community

A veteran from Lackawanna County thought a memorial to those who served in his community needed something special for the holidays, but his effort has had unintended consequences.

ELMHURST TOWNSHIP, Pa. – A veteran from Lackawanna County thought a memorial to those who served in his community needed something special for the holidays, but his effort has had unintended consequences.

No matter the weather, John Youshock of Elmhurst makes sure to check on the Elmhurst Roaring Brook Veterans Memorial down the road from his house every few days. Last week, he thought the spot along Blue Shutters Road needed some holiday decoration, so he cut down a tree, added some battery-operated lights, and then turned to the internet for help trimming.

"The community's not doing too much, everyone's staying to themselves. I said, 'let me throw a tree up, put it on Facebook, and see how far it gets,'" Youshock said.

John asked neighbors to stop by and add their own ornaments, and in just a few days, the tree is no longer bare.

Some families are using the tree to honor loved ones who have served in the military. Others are just adding whatever they think will look nice.

"An ornament from 1982 is on here, some other ones that are homemade or people have extra ones. One lady down the street, this is her fourth time already. She's coming every time she finds something and puts it on the tree. So, I think it's going to grow bigger and bigger over the next couple of weeks."

For next Christmas, John is planning to ask Elmhurst Township to plan a permanent tree, and based on the response already from this year, it looks like he's going to need a bigger one.

John says the tree was originally for the veterans, but it's turned into a community project.

We met Dave Partyka just after he added two of his own ornaments to the tree.

“That’s a great idea. Let’s help support this in the community,” Partyka said.