Arbor Day celebration held at Indian Pines Park

John Christensen
The Chronicle Express
This beautiful 20-foot-tall maple tree was planted in Indian Pines Park in  Penn Yan's first official celebration of Arbor Day, April 29.

PENN YAN — The Village of Penn Yan held its first official annual Arbor Day celebration Friday, April 29 at Indian Pines Park to mark the 150th Anniversary of Arbor Day.

The Department of Public Works had prepared a hole for the planting of a 20-foot-tall maple tree to mark the occasion. Mayor Dan Condella and Trustee Teresa Hoban were in attendance and made brief and fitting comments on the importance of tree planting for the sake of future generations of Penn Yan citizens. The village plans to make this an annual event to improve the landscape and environment.

Penn Yan Village Trustee and Parks Committee Chair Teresa Hoban making her ceremonial contribution to the planting.
Mayor Dan Condella adding a shovelful of soil to the planting.

Indian Pines Park was chosen because of the large number of ash trees there that have been lost recently to the emerald ash borer. The park is also one of the sites designated for large-scale improvements in the Downtown Revitalization Initiative.

The mayor also lent his weight to helping DPW workers straighten the tree.

According to the Arbor Day Foundation:

As pioneers began moving into the Nebraska Territory, the lack of trees was felt deeply. Not only did the new residents miss the trees they left behind, they were also left without the trees they needed as windbreaks to keep soil in place, for fuel and building materials, and for shade from the hot sun.

Nebraska newspaper editor and resident of Nebraska City, J. Sterling Morton had an enthusiasm for trees and advocated strongly for individuals and civic groups to plant them. Once he became secretary of the Nebraska Territory, he further spread his message of the value of trees. And on Jan. 4, 1872, Morton first proposed a tree planting holiday to be called “Arbor Day” at a meeting of the State Board of Agriculture.

The celebration date was set for April 10, 1872. Prizes were offered to counties and individuals for the largest number of properly planted trees on that day. It was estimated that more than 1 million trees were planted in Nebraska on the first Arbor Day.