The City of St. Augustine commemorated Arbor Day on Friday, January 16 with the planting of a Little Gem Magnolia in the Fullerwood neighborhood park located at the intersection of Bay View Drive, East Park Avenue and Rainey Avenue.
The ceremony preceding the tree planting included presentations by the city’s Street Tree Advisory Committee, musical selections from students of the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind Music Department and readings by students from the ABLE School.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, Smokey Bear assisted in a tree-giveaway for all in attendance by handing out a wide variety of saplings including Southern Red Cedar, Live Oak, American Elm, East Palatka Holly, Red Maple and Sycamore.
This year’s ceremony marks the 26th year the city received the prized designation of Tree City USA from the National Arbor Day Foundation. There are 133 cities in the State of Florida which have received the designation of Tree City USA, but only 10 have received the designation longer than St. Augustine. In addition, the Foundation presented the city with the Tree City USA Growth Award, an honor it has received every year since 1991.
While National Arbor Day is celebrated on the last Friday in April, individual 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.
The site for the annual Arbor Day ceremony and the type of tree planted changes from year to year. Over the last decade, ceremonies have included planting Holly, Live Oak, Red Maple and Sycamore trees at Sebastian Inland Harbor, Francis Field, Joseph Pomar, Jr. Recreational Facility, Eddie Vickers Recreational Facility, Government House, J. Edward “Red” Cox Recreational Facility, the Plaza de la Constitución and last year in Davenport Park.