Arbor Day to be ‘a celebration of trees’ at Brandon Park

The Brandon Park and Shade Tree commission truly will celebrate trees at this year’s Arbor Day event, slated for 1 p.m. April 28 in Brandon Park.

Though Arbor Day always is about the trees, this year’s soiree piggybacks a successful TreeVitalize program and the grants awarded through it, which led to the removal of over 100 dead or dying trees as well as to the ongoing planting of 75 healthy trees throughout the city.

“TreeVitalize is a public/private partnership through the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to restore tree cover in Williamsport and other Pennsylvania communities,” said Thad Meckley, chairman of the Brandon Park and Shade Tree commissions. “This will be our first use of grant opportunities through TreeVitalize, which was established in 2004.”

“TreeVitalize is our Arbor Day in action,” he added.

For more than 20 years, dozens have participated in celebrating the trees of Brandon Park and the rest of the city. It’s a relaxed, educational program that tends to set the mood for a nice weekend enjoying the outdoors surrounding Williamsport, Meckley said.

“It’s so quiet and laid back, and kids play in the park while family members visit. It’s very pleasant,” he said. “And it really showcases the importance of wise stewardship and the contributions made by trees to our community.”

The program will include performances by the Curtin Intermediate School jazz band, an Arbor Day proclamation from Mayor Gabriel J. Campana and the annual presentation of trees dedicated to the loved ones of community members. This year, five trees of different species will be presented.

City arborist Chad Eckert and commission members will be available to answer questions about the different species of trees being presented, as well as those throughout the park.

In the midst of Arbor Day planning, the Shade Tree Commission also is reapplying with the Arbor Day Foundation to be designated a Tree City USA, as Williamsport had been named for several years in the past.

“We missed the continuation of that program two years ago, but we’re hoping to reinstate that this year,” Meckley said. “We feel it’s an important aspect of what we do on the Shade Tree Commission to be a part of Tree City USA and we’re lucky enough to have a certified arborist (Eckert) working for the city to support and educate us.”

Meckley noted that Brandon Park’s front entryway landscape project soon will be underway and he hopes it will be completed by Arbor Day. Trees, flowering bushes, shrubs, flowers and stepping stones make it a multi-seasonal, multi-colored landscape arrangement, but it still will be open and simple in keeping with the look of the original landscaping when the park first opened, he said.