Arbor Day Event Features Tree Giveaway
by Sandi Fahy
Photo by SANDI FAHY
CLEARWATER - Car after car pulled up to the entrance of the City of Clearwater's Public Works Complex on North Arcturas Avenue on Saturday, April 26. The occasion was the annual Arbor Day celebration featuring a free tree giveaway. Public Services employees Mary Case and Julia Tynefield were busy checking proof of residency and giving out numbers to the drivers of each arriving car. The numbers designated their place in line.
Clearwater residents were eligible to pick out two free trees per household from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. City staffers were on hand to assist people with their selections. Debbie Carlson was among the early arrivals. So was Jacqueline Johnson. Quite a crowd had gathered by the time they left with their trees. Soon after, Laura Kanar, who was there with son Ethan, heard her number called. Arborist Bill Dillashaw answered their questions regarding maintenance and watering of the Crape Myrtle tree and Chickasaw Plum tree they planned to take home. Altogether, some 1,800 trees were given away that day on a first-come, first serve basis.
Another highlight of the event was the presentation of the Tree City USA flag by the Florida Division of Forestry. This is the 26th year Clearwater has received the award. There were some 129 Tree Cities in Florida last year. The Tree City USA program is sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation in cooperation with the USDA Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters.
The idea for Arbor Day originated with a journalist from Detroit by the name of J. Sterling Morton, who was among the pioneers moving into the Nebraska Territory in 1854. It was a lack of trees in his new environment that led to the founding of Arbor Day. Morton, who became editor of Nebraska's first newspaper, advocated tree planting by individuals in his articles and editorials. It was at a meeting of the State Board of Agriculture in January of 1872 that Morton first proposed a tree-planting holiday called "Arbor Day." Counties and individuals were offered prizes for planting the largest number of trees on April 10, 1872. As it turned out, more than one million trees were planted in Nebraska that day.
Other states later passed legislation to observe Arbor Day. Though most states celebrate the day the last Friday in April, some schedule their observances to coincide with the best tree planting weather. Arbor Day is now observed in some form in many countries around the world but at different times of the year. They include Brazil, Dia dos Arvores in September; Canada, Maple Leaf Day and National Forest Week in September; China, Tree Planting Day in March; Holland, National Tree Festival in March; Mexico, Day of the Tree in July; Scotland, Scottish Branch Arbor Day in March; and Tunisia, Tree Festival Day in November. Among the countries hosting celebrations in April are Japan, Greenery Day; Korea, Tree-Loving Week; and Bulgaria, National Forest Day.
(l-r) Julia Tynefield, Dennis Olmstead and Mary Case greet arrivals at the entrance to the Public Works Complex.
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