Our 2023 Holiday Tree Memorial Honors Those We’ve Lost

No words can describe the pain of losing a loved one to an overdose. Time may dull it, but the holidays have a way of resurfacing the heartache. It is simply impossible to ignore the void the loss has left in your life.

At Wake the Nation, we are all too familiar with this pain. But we also understand the importance of celebrating the time we had with our loved ones.

Every year we host our Holiday Tree Memorial at Brookfield Zoo in Brookfield, IL, to allow people to remember, honor and celebrate the people they have lost. We hope it provides a little light to an otherwise difficult season.

What is the Holiday Tree Memorial?

Each year our team invites people to send in the names and photos of loved ones lost to an overdose or substance use-related complication. Then we create a custom ornament for each loved one and host a ceremony where we invite people to help us hang the decorations on a tree at Brookfield Zoo.

We chose Brookfield Zoo because it has a special significance for our Executive Director, Cassandra Wingert. She lost her boyfriend to overdose in 2012, and the zoo was her favorite place to go with him and their son. What was a place of loss for her is now a place of celebration because of the Holiday Memorial Tree.

Moreover, Brookfield Zoo attracts a large crowd during the holiday season. Visited by over 100,000 people for the Holiday Lights attraction, Wake the Nation’s tree is prominently displayed at the center of the zoo. The tree raises awareness of the substance use and overdose epidemic while honoring the 300+ individuals represented on it.

Since we started the tree in 2012, it has helped many people experience healing and peace. Not only have they been able to celebrate their lost loved ones, but they have also formed strong bonds with other people participating in decorating the tree.

The memorial tree has also become a source of hope for those affected by substance use disorders who have come across it and reached out to our team.

Ultimately, the memorial tree has served many significant purposes, including preventing the needless loss of life.

How Do I Participate?

If you want to honor your lost loved one on our 2023 Holiday Tree Memorial, please fill out the form below. It costs nothing to have the ornament personalized and hung. However, if you would like us to ship the ornament to you, please include $10 with your order. We are also happy to accept donations if you feel so inclined.

Please be on the lookout for more information about submission deadlines and other details about this year’s Holiday Tree Memorial. The deadline for submissions is November 4th 2023. Submissions made after the deadline will be made and added to the tree at our teams convenience. If you have any questions, please give us a call at (708) 785-0291 or email wakethenation@live.com.

"*" indicates required fields

Name of Deceased*
Date of Birth*
Date of Passing*
Max. file size: 50 MB.
If possible, please include a headshot or photo in which your loved one's face is free from obstructions. Please avoid photos with graphics and words on them. An photo in which only your loved one is depicted, would be appreciated.
Your Name*
Payment Method
Supported Credit Cards: MasterCard, Visa