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WEST CHESTER — In 1872, J. Sterling Morton started an annual nationwide tradition celebrating trees and the environment. On April 10 of that year, more than a million trees were planted in Nebraska, creating Arbor Day.
In Hoopes Park in West Chester, the community didn’t plant a million trees, but they did add four Metasequoia Dawn Redwood trees in memory of deceased members of the GFWC New Century Club, a community activist and in honor of the veterans on Friday morning.
“We have, in western society, been celebrating trees for at least five centuries — I did a little bit of internet research,” said Chester County Commissioner Terence Farrell. “We are all here because we understand the importance of the environment and we all understand the importance of conservation. Here in West Chester … we appreciate our trees and all they give to us.”
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Joining Farrell were fellow commissioners Michelle Kichline and Kathi Cozzone, state Sen. Andy Dinniman, state Rep. Dan Truitt, West Chester Mayor Carolyn Comitta and more.
“It’s really wonderful to see so many people come out every year and celebrate Arbor Day,” Cozzone said. “We all know and understand the importance of trees in our environment and the fact that we all take the time to come together for a little while on Arbor Day to express our commitment to that is truly wonderful.”
As part of the celebration, West Chester was also recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation for reaching 27 years as Tree City USA, a nationwide movement for communities to manage and expand their public trees.
To become a Tree City USA member, the community must meet four core standards: maintain a tree board or department, have a community tree ordinance, spend at least $2 per capita on urban forestry and celebrate Arbor Day.
“We do care deeply about trees in West Chester,” Dinniman said. “Despite whatever politics (there) may be, we all agree that we all love the tree — and that actually rhymed.”
The four redwoods, which join others which have already been planted over the years, are located in the pine grove area of Hoopes Park to the north, next to the tennis courts.
This year, the trees were planted in memory of the New Century Club members Diane Heald, Diane Vaughan, Olive Lilley, Virginia Conrad Ashton and community activist Alan Clark.
An additional tree was planted from the borough.
“The borough is planting a tree in honor of our American veterans,” Comitta said. “This is very exciting as well and a wonderful tribute. This is one of the, if not the sweetest event of the year. We have our wonderful veterans, we sing, we come together and we plant trees in memory of dear friends.”
West Chester, which is home to 11 parks of varying size, will officially be adding another with the saved Barclay grounds, adding to the already environmentally conscientious borough.
The new trees are just another way for the borough to improve the quality of life in the area for more than just the residents.
“Whether you celebrate the beginning of somebody’s life or the end of somebody’s life (with the planting of trees), you see that in trees as well,” Kichline said.