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City celebrates Arbor Day with multiple plantings
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Children were instructed on the finer points of tree planting - and getting their hands dirty - at Turlock's Arbor Day celebration on Friday.

The annual, international, worldwide celebration of trees came to Turlock Friday, as local officials and residents celebrated Arbor Day at Donnelly Park.

“Who doesn’t like trees, and who wouldn’t want to plant a tree today?” said Mayor John Lazar. “I always say, there’s nothing greener you can do than plant a tree.”

But this wasn’t just any regular Arbor Day for the City of Turlock.

“This is a very special Arbor Day, in that we’re also celebrating Turlock’s 20th year as a Tree City USA,” said Allison Van Guilder, Turlock Parks and Recreation manager.

The designation is given only to communities which meet certain tree-friendly criteria, like spending at least $2 per capita on trees and tree maintenance, maintaining a tree ordinance and celebrating Arbor Day annually.

To mark the 20th anniversary, the City of Turlock planted 20 trees. The move follows a trend the city started in 2008, when Turlock planted 100 trees in Centennial Park, to mark Turlock’s 100 years as a city.

This year, Donnelley Park received new Raywood Ash trees, Ginkos, Redwoods and Sunburst Maples, planted by a horde of excited children. Normally the city coordinates with a local Turlock school to plant those trees, but an irregular spring break timing saw attendees from Kids Community Campus and Active Orthopedic get their hands dirty instead.

Those attendees learned firsthand how to plant trees, keep them healthy and care for them over their lifespan. They also learned the value of trees, from creating oxygen to reducing air conditioning costs and improving property values.

While the 20 trees for 20 years made a symbolic mark, they weren’t the only trees planted by the City of Turlock in honor of Arbor Day. This month, the city planted 14 trees in cooperation with Teens in Action, and a further 31 trees in the Walnut/Christoffersen Storm Basin.

The city’s effort, while impactful, pales in comparison to the first Arbor Day, held April 10, 1872 in Nebraska City. On that day, Julius Sterling Morton, a Nebraska editor who served as President Grover Cleveland's Secretary of Agriculture, organized a city-wide planting effort which has since grown to Australia, Canada and Europe.

“They estimated they planted over a million trees on that day,” Turlock Municipal Services Supervisor Ray Garcia said. “... Mr. Sterling brought something good to our country.”

To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.