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10,000 people plant trees as Hart-felt tributes


Martha Hart plants a tree in Fish Creek Park in honour of her late wrestling husband, Owen.
- Stuart Dryden, Calgary SUN
Martha Hart wants to make sure Calgarians don't forget the legacy of her husband, wrestler Owen Hart.

And to ensure that, she picked a tree at the Fish Creek Memorial Forest to dedicate to Owen, who died while performing a wrestling stunt in Kansas City on May 23.

Martha also gave a speech to more than 10,000 Calgarians who gathered yesterday at Fish Creek Park to dedicate trees to their deceased loved ones.

"In life, I did everything for Owen, and in death I want everybody to know how wonderful he was," said Martha, before she gave her speech.

McInnis and Holloway Funeral Homes hosted the dedication, now in its fourth year, which will see more than 2,000 trees planted this year, bringing the total to 8,500.

"It's a wonderful way to keep Owen's memory with a living memorial," said Martha, who chose a Choke Cherry tree in his honour.

Also speaking was Jan Geggie, whose husband, Dr. Peter Geggie, was only 56 when he died of a pulmonary embolism last month.

As transit buses shuttled Calgarians to and from the park, families gathered to decide on what type of tree to dedicate.

Only trees native to Fish Creek Park are planted, and people chose from White Spruce, Saskatoon, Dogwood, Wolfwood and Choke Cherry.

For some, the living tree is the ultimate legacy to their loved ones.

"We think it's a wonderful way to remember our beautiful Betty," said Mary-Ellen Rae, speaking of her niece who passed away one year ago today.

Rae said Betty was a teacher, and outdoor enthusiast, who spent much of her time in the park.

"(The tree) would mean a lot to her," said Rae.

"There couldn't be a more fitting way to celebrate her life."

Next year will be the last time trees are planted in the Glenfield part of Fish Creek Park, because there isn't enough space.

McInnis and Holloway will start planting in Shaw Meadows, on the west side of Macleod Tr., but still part of Fish Creek Park.

"We'll be there for a few years," said Ernie Hagel, McInnis and Holloway's president.

Once Shaw Meadows runs out of room, Hagel said he'd like to start another forest in the northern part of the city.

He said negotiations have begun with the city, but a site hasn't been determined.

The trees chosen yesterday will be planted in next June.

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