Everett tree lighting comes with special dedication to fallen officer

Everett tree lighting comes with special dedication to fallen officer

EVERETT, Mass. — A holiday tradition in Everett has extra special meaning this year. At the annual lighting of the city Christmas tree, a dedication was made to an officer who died four years ago next week.

That officer's family was there for the honor.

It was an emotional moment. So many people in Everett coming to watch the tree lit up and celebrate the holiday. For the family approaching another anniversary, it's bittersweet.

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This year's Christmas tree lit and dedicated to Everett Police Officer Glen Briley, a 19-year-veteran who died of natural causes nearly four years ago.

"Knowing that other people are thinking of Glen, at this time especially, it's just, it's very special to all of us," said Michele Strong, Officer Briley’s sister.

The city received the tree in an unconventional but special way.

The 25-foot evergreen was donated by a family in Tewksbury, where Officer Briley had lived. The giant tree had begun crowding the walkway and towering over the Flynn family's home. One call to the city and it was on its way to Everett, where Officer Briley not only served but also grew up.

"Glen and I were classmates," said Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria Jr. "He graduated a year behind me in high school."

Everett's mayor joining Officer Briley's family on stage for the special ceremony to honor him.

"We're recognizing a man who served his city honorably as a police officer, which is a very tough job," Mayor DeMaria said. "It's hard to relive what we went through four years ago. December 9 will be four years of his passing. So it is emotional and it's hard when people do talk about him, but it's a nice feeling inside to know that people didn't forget him."

As people enjoy the festive tree in Officer Briley's honor this season, it's only fitting that it's in his hometown of Everett.

"Everybody steps up, the police dept., the citizens," said Capt. Paul Strong, Officer Briley's brother-in-law. "This is why we love Everett. That’s why Glen wanted to work here."

When the Flynn family first offered up their tree free of charge, they received tens of thousands of shares on Facebook. But when the idea of Everett came up, they knew this was the only place it should be.