Memorial tree replaced in Bryan Park

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Russ Bridenbaugh (right) holds a piece of the stump from his original “memorial tree” that was cut down and stolen from Bryan Park, as he talks with Don Weiler of Bailey & Weiler Design/Build. Weiler and members of Cook Center Business Roundtable organized the planting of a replacement blue spruce tree. David Snodgress | Herald-Times


By Mike Leonard
December 13, 2011

The light rain seemed to accentuate the bittersweet occasion Tuesday morning as workers replaced the blue spruce memorial tree vandals cut down in Bryan Park more than a week ago.

The tree had been donated by nearby resident Russ Bridenbaugh, who watched as Designscape owner Dan Gluesenkamp, Don Weiler of Bailey & Weiler Design/Build and others pitched in to dig a hole, plant a new tree and right the wrong inflicted not only on Bridenbaugh but patrons of Bloomington’s most popular urban park.

Bridenbaugh told the assembled group that the second thing he does every morning — after making coffee — is to open up the dictionary and choose a word for the day. “Today’s word is gratitude and today, I feel great gratitude for all of you. Thank you,” he said.

Russ Bridenbaugh watches as Don Weiler of Bailey & Weiler Design/Build and the Designscape landscaping crew plant a new blue spruce in Bryan Park near the spot where his original “memorial tree” was cut down and stolen.

Bridenbaugh, a retired wine journalist, had donated the tree to the city after moving from the north side of Bloomington to an apartment on the south side of Bryan Park. The city planted it on a hill where Bridenbaugh could see it from his apartment and he cared for it as if it were still his own, pruning it frequently to keep it perfectly shaped.

Bridenbaugh intended for the 22-year-old evergreen to long outlive him and be his memorial tree.

Members of a Cook Center Business Roundtable group read about the theft of the tree and offered to replace it. It didn’t hurt that Gluesenkamp, the owner of a horticultural business, was a member of the Ivy Tech/Cook Center for Entrepreneurship roundtable.

“I just went out to our nursery in Brown County and picked out the biggest blue spruce we had,” he said Tuesday morning. “We don’t have a lot of blues — mainly Norways.”

A Designscape crew brought the 10-foot tree through the park using a small, front-end loader. After volunteers hand-dug a hole, the tree was gently maneuvered into it. Excess dirt was loaded back into the loader bucket and a load of bark mulch was spread to cover the base of tree, making the newly-planted spruce look as if it had always been there.

“We are pleased to celebrate the planting of this new tree,” said Don Weiler, a member of the business group. “It serves as a reminder that simple acts can have a significant impact.”

Copyright: 2011

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