EAST VILLAGE — Neighbors will gather at the La Plaza Cultural de Armando Perez community garden on Avenue C this Sunday to mourn the impending loss of at least one of the green space's beloved weeping willows.
The Parks Department has determined that at least one of the massive trees, which have stood tall in the community for 41 years, is ravaged by rot and beyond salvation, while its neighbor is sprouting fungus and may be on the way out as well, according to the garden's executive director.
"They’ve certainly been important to the community in general," said executive director Ross Martin. "They’re kind of like the icons of the space and they dominate everybody's view of the place."
The anticipated loss is devastating for garden members, said Martin, but has become necessary as the trees have increasingly deteriorated.
Gardeners have had difficulty managing the trees for years now, said Martin, and they have become increasingly hazardous, even occasionally dropping branches.
"It's always been kind of a back and forth and it's just sad its coming to an end, and it has to happen so suddenly and brutally, but we’re coming to grips with it," he said.
The tree closest to Avenue C, nicknamed Cher, will be taken away in the near future, said Martin. The other, nicknamed Krusty, is still being evaluated by parks representatives, he said, though it will likely pass as well.
A Parks Department spokeswoman confirmed one of the trees has been found in poor health, while the other is still under evaluation.
Sunday's service, which will take place at 4 p.m., will be led by local icon Reverend Billy, who will lead the group in prayer and song as they say farewell to the trees.
"It's kind of free form — I know Reverend Billy and his choir will lead us in prayer, whatever that means, and they will sing," said Martin.
"Other than that, we just want people to come tell their stories, just be with friends and neighbors, in their grief."
A third weeping willow, named Wally, was lost to Hurricane Irene, noted Martin.