UNION BEACH - An evergreen known as the Union Beach "Tree of Hope" continues to give hope to visitors reflecting on Superstorm Sandy even though it doesn't appear to be surviving the winter.
Most of the bristles are gone and the branches are dried out on the tree that replaced an artificial tree that washed up after Sandy.
"I haven't seen the tree in several months because it brings tears to my eyes," says Amy Valentino. "But tears of happiness now."
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To residents, what the tree on Jersey Avenue symbolizes is still alive and well.
When the original tree was found, a neighbor put it up and others decorated it. The tree quickly represented recovery and hope.
Now it's going to be replaced with a new and healthier tree as soon as weather permits, according to borough administrator Jennifer Maier.
The plan is to replant a Christmas tree from the waterfront at the same location in the spring.
Valentino is a longtime Union Beach resident and loves that it's being replaced, but she says it's bittersweet. "We're going to miss that one a little," she says.
The homemade ornaments on the tree were made by local Girl Scouts.
Maier says about 400 families are still out of their homes in Union Beach.