While most families decorate a pine tree inside their house for Christmas, this year one Oak Park family fussed over a tree outside – and down the block.

Jenny Lizak and her family have decked a tree in Lindberg Park, at Marion and Greenfield, in honor of her husband, Eugene Lizak,

She adopted the evergreen this year from the park district in honor of her husband, a World War II veteran who died in October 2008 at the age of 84. He was a neighborhood fixture and always enjoyed taking walks through Lindberg Park.

“We just decided that would be something in his memory that everyone should know about,” she said. “He was just such a wonderful guy.”

When the Lizaks were raising their five kids, they would play sports at Lindberg. Jenny Lizak can remember her husband standing by the same tree decades ago, watching their son play baseball.

Since adopting the tree, she, her grownup children and her grandkids have taken to decorating it to mark special occasions. They started in October, with Halloween decorations.

Then on Dec. 4, they decorated it for Eugene’s birthday – with banners and a sign that said “Happy birthday, Grandpa.”

A couple of weeks ago, they took down the birthday decorations and put up Christmas ones, including strands of popcorn and cranberries to feed the birds, and battery-operated lights and bells.

Jenny Lizak hopes to keep the tradition going, decorating the tree in February for Valentine’s Day and in May for their 50th wedding anniversary.

“We just want to keep his memory alive,” Lizak said.

-Marty Stempniak

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