The City of St. Augustine will commemorate Arbor Day on Friday, January 19 at Hamilton Upchurch Neighborhood Park at the intersection of Anastasia Boulevard and Red Cox Road. The brief ceremony starts at 11am and the public is invited to attend.
As is the tradition, the ceremony will include the planting of trees by city officials and presentations by the Street Tree Advisory Committee (STAC). In addition, students from R. B. Hunt Elementary School will offer musical selections, and the ceremony will conclude with Smokey Bear leading the distribution of a variety of saplings to all in attendance.
Each year the city’s volunteer STAC selects the location and the type of trees to be planted for Arbor Day. This year, three sable palms will be added to Upchurch Park marking the 100th total number of trees planted as part of the city’s 35 years of Arbor Day ceremonies in 23 locations throughout the city.
At the conclusion, the ceremony, honored guest, Smokey Bear, will assist city crews to distribute free saplings, including Live Oak, Red Cedar, Loblolly Bay, East Palatka Holly and Red Maple, to the public.
This year is also the 35th year the city has received the designation as a Tree City USA. There are 179 cities in the State of Florida which have received the designation of Tree City USA, but only 7 have received the designation longer than St. Augustine.
While Arbor Day is celebrated nationally 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. Past Arbor Day ceremonies have been held at 24 locations including Rollins Park, Joseph Pomar, Jr. Recreational Facility, Eddie Vickers Recreational Facility, The Governor’s House, J. Edward “Red” Cox Recreational Facility, the Plaza de la Constitución, Willie Galimore Center, Davenport Park, the Visitors Information Center, Francis Field and Robert B. Hayling Freedom Park.
The 100 trees planted during the ceremonies represent 15 different varieties including Live Oak, Red Maple, Southern Red Cedar, Red Bud, Sycamore, and Bald Cypress. Live Oak is the variety planted most often with 44 total trees. This is the first time Sabal Palms, Florida’s State Tree, have been planted.