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Smokey Bear gives away Florida Red Maple and Red Cedar seedlings to students from Cathedral Parish School after their participation in the 2003 Arbor Day Ceremony held in the Plaza de la Constitucion.

City Commemorates Arbor Day 2004

Ceremony held in Lighthouse Park on Friday, January 16

The City of St. Augustine continued its annual tradition of celebrating Arbor Day with the planting of a live oak tree by city officials on Friday, January 16. This year’s planting site was in Lighthouse Park at the J. Edward "Red" Cox Recreational Facility located on Red Cox Dr. off Anastasia Blvd.

The brief ceremony preceding the planting of the tree included the presentation of a donation from The Garden Club of St. Augustine represented by Rayma Thomas, current president, to assist in defraying the cost of the live oak. Also, Fred Halback, chairman of the City’s Street Tree Advisory Committee, presented the Mayor with a new Tree City USA flag recognizing the City’s receiving that designation for 2004.

Students from R. B. Hunt Elementary School, which is located near the park, participated in the program by offering appropriate readings and musical selections. Mrs. Lila Sleeper’s Fourth Grade class recited Birch Trees by John Richard Moreland and Trees by Sarah Coleridge. Mrs. Pam Mosley’s First Grade class sand Be A Buddy to a Tree by Al Rasso.

At the conclusion ceremony, Smokey Bear gave away Florida Red Maple and Red Cedar seedlings to all in attendance.

While National Arbor Day is celebrated on the last Friday in April, many states hold ceremonies on dates better suited to their own tree-planting season. Florida’s Arbor Day is celebrated on the third Friday in January.

Celebrating 21 Years as a Tree City USA

This year’s Arbor Day Ceremony was especially meaningful for it was just last summer that the City was honored as the recipient of the 2003 Florida Tree City of the Year at the annual Trees Florida Conference "in recognition of efforts to plan, plant and protect Florida’s urban trees." In addition, the City was recognized for its remarkable record of being named a Tree City USA every year since 1983.

The city was acknowledged for its tree inventory and maintenance, protection of existing trees on wooded lots during construction, and Memorial Tree Program. Two examples of the city’s stewardship were cited: landscaping of Vickers Park with over 100 trees and 30 shrubs, and the preservation of three large Live Oaks at the Visitor Information Center through creative design.

Words from the Founder of Arbor Day

The following is excerpted from remarks by J. Sterling Morton, founder of Arbor Day, to the people of Nebraska City, Nebraska on the occasion of the first celebration of Arbor Day as a legal holiday in that state on April 22, 1885.

We place the roots of the infant tree in their bed of mould with serene and confident certainty that the sun and earth will nourish, warm and quicken the sapling into the forest giant. Our's is an act of devotion to nature and the Supreme law; it is faith expressed in a deed; and it is a deed which conveys health, happiness and consolation to generations not our own.

A monk of the seventeenth century described the place we hope for beyond the grave as substantial and no shadow - a world beautiful in grass, flowers, fruits, forests, rivers, lakes and oceans, and hills and valleys, sensible to sight and to touch; and, in picturing the heaven we long for, man's brain has always drawn largely for its imagery from man's vegetable co-tenants of the globe. This being man's concept of human happiness, let us endeavor then by our words on "Arbor Day" - and all other opportune occasions - to so embellish the world with plant life, trees, flowers and foliage, as to make our earth homes approximate to those which the prophets, poets and seers of all ages have portrayed as the Home in Heaven.

More information about Arbor Day may be found at the National Arbor Day Foundation Web site at


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