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Tree Hugging in Santa Clara’s Central Park on Arbor Day

Everything kids need to know about trees, they learn in kindergarten.

Kindergartners from Don Callejon and Pomeroy Elementary Schools in Santa Clara shared their knowledge: “Trees grow from seeds. They give us oxygen. Without trees, we couldn’t live. Oak trees grow from acorns. They give shelter to animals. I like the leaves — they give you shade. Trees are alive, and they have feelings.”

They were among the 770 tree-hugging students, teachers and chaperones from seven Santa Clara elementary school campuses who attended the Arbor Day/Earth day celebration at Central Park on April 25.

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Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor and other City dignitaries also attended the celebration — the 32nd since 1987.

“The City of Santa Clara has a continued commitment to managing, expanding and preserving trees, so much so that we have proclaimed today, Thursday, April 25, 2019, as Arbor Day/Earth Day,” said Gillmor to the students assembled outdoors in the main pavilion.

“I love that the kids are learning about the environment at an early age,” said City Council Member Raj Chahal. He shared that Big Basin Redwoods State Park near Boulder Creek is one of his family’s favorite places to view the tall trees.

Cal Fire Battalion Chief Tim Main presented Santa Clara with its 32nd National Arbor Day Foundation Tree City USA Award (www.arborday.org) and its 19th Growth Award in recognition of the city’s commitment to tree care and the environment.

About 11,000 trees line the streets of Santa Clara and are maintained by the City. Among them are Modesto ash, sycamore, liquid amber, fruitless mulberry and magnolia trees.

“The City encourages the planting of trees,” said Deputy Director of Public Works Dave Staub.

Staub said that the City will even provide and plant trees for residents in the public easement in front of their homes. All that residents need to do is to water and fertilize the trees until they are established.

Throughout Central Park there are 960 trees — plus one. A red maple tree was planted to commemorate Arbor Day 2019.

One of the most popular trees in the park, however, was not rooted. It was Treena from Our City Forest in San Jose. Each Arbor Day, Treena poses for photos with the children and lets them hug her.

As well as tree hugging opportunities, the day included exhibitors at 34 booths sharing information about the environment. The City Cultural Commission hosted a booth where kids made an art mural out of used plastic bottle caps.

The kids got to see a live bee hive and pet animal skins. They learned about composting and got to see a fire truck up close. They signed a pledge card reading, “I choose to save the Earth.” They had lunch sitting on the grass under the trees.

“The Arbor Day celebration is a lot of fun,” said Karin Hickey, Environmental Program Manager for the Public Works Department. “It’s a good time to get together and reinforce messages about the environment.”

Hickey, who organized the celebration, emphasized that it was a group effort. She acknowledged the hard work of the departments of Parks and Recreation, Parkways and Boulevards Division, and Public Works. She thanked Silicon Valley Power and the other Arbor Day sponsors.

“It’s really nice to see all the hard work we put into it come together,” said Hickey. “It’s really fulfilling.”

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