Few symbols of life are more enduring than a tree. If planted today by a child, a tree might one day be looked upon by that child's great-grandchildren.
In Gregory Park on Friday, 600 children in grades one through five from Whittier, Riverside, Lincoln, St. Francis and Lake Region Christian School got together and planted trees in observance of Arbor Day. They planted a red maple for Dru Sjodin, a silver maple for Marian Taylor, a red maple for Chester Roohr and tied a yellow ribbon around a red maple for Erika Dalquist.
"We like to have the first-graders plant the trees so they grow up with them," said Bonnie Muzik, recreation coordinator at the Brainerd Parks and Recreation Department.
It was the 23rd Arbor Day observance here in Brainerd. Memorial Park has been the site a few times, but most years it's at Gregory Park, where students' plantings from past years stand in majestic grace throughout the park.
"That's Jacob's tree right there," Muzik said, pointing to a robust green ash stretching its branches to the morning sun.
It was planted 12 years ago in memory of Jacob Wetterling. Our troops in Iraq have a tree, as does Carol Embretson, a teacher at Whittier who died of cancer in 1994.
How it started
Secretary of the Interior Sterlin Morton started Arbor Day on April 10, 1872, in Nebraska City, Neb.
Anybody can plant a tree at the park by contacting the parks and recreation department. A fee of $20 is charged for a plaque that tells when the tree was planted, for whom and by whom. Presently, 100 plaques fill one wall. Another 50 spaces are sold on another wall. Four other completely blank walls remain.
One day Gregory Park might not have enough room for more trees, but that day is a long way off, Muzik said.
"There's such attrition with trees," she said. "We've lost most of the elms. We'll lose some more soon. Some of these trees are more that a hundred years old."
Friday's observance wasn't all somber reflection on lives lost, a person missing and troops in battle. Each child was given a white pine seedling to plant at home. The children also took part in lighthearted games and informational sessions, including Oh Deer Oh Deer, Musk Ox Maneuvers, Oh Bear Oh Bear, Quick Frozen Critters, Seedling Production, The Tree Chain Game, Leaf Arrangements and Tree Identification and Animals in the Forest.
Helping the Park and Recreation Department host the event were students from Central Lakes College, employees of the Department of Natural Resources, Crow Wing County Land Department and Nature Learning Center, and two retired foresters, Rudy Hillig and Bob Tiplady.
VINCE MEYER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5862.
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