Arbor Day celebrated with local fests

COVINGTON -- Several celebrations are being offered for citizens to commemorate Arbor Day this year.

First up is a celebration at Mansfield Elementary School at 1:15 p.m. Friday, Feb. 10. The entire community is invited to participate.

The festivities will take place in the school gym. Former Mansfield Mayor Bill Cocchi and retiring Mansfield Elementary School Principal G.W. Davis will be honored. The guest speaker will be Beryl Budd with the Georgia Forestry Commission. All children will receive a pine seedling.

On Saturday, Feb. 11, the town of Newborn Tree Board is inviting everyone to attend its Arbor Day celebration, which takes place from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Town Hall on Ga. Highway 142.

The free event will include tree climbing for children sponsored by Arbor Equity Inc. Children will be harnessed and safely hoisted onto a water oak adjacent to Town Hall. All children should be in the company of a parent or guardian.

Blackwell Grocery, a store in nearby Mansfield, is supplying hot dogs, drinks and fixings for all. Free seedlings will be handed out, complete with instructions for planting. Special guest Smokey Bear will pose for pictures.

Arbor Day takes on special significance to the town this year, according to Mayor Roger Sheridan, as more than 50 trees have been planted there in recent months to replace more than 100 trees lost in an April 2011 tornado.

Finally, the city of Oxford will host an Arbor Day celebration from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Feb. 18, at Oxford City Hall.

At the event, the winners of a writing and art contest for students at Cousins Middle and Flint Hill Elementary schools will be announced. A forest pansy tree will be planted in the park adjacent to City Hall. The tree has heart-shaped leaves, in keeping with the Tree Board's efforts to tie in the celebration with Valentine's Day.

"We're celebrating by loving our trees," said LaTrelle Oliver, tree board secretary.

Daniel Bauer, of Arbor Equity Inc., will do a climbing demonstration and City Arborist Connie Head will speak. Free seedlings will be distributed.

Arbor Day is celebrated this year on Friday, Feb. 17.

Arbor Day was started by J. Sterling Morgan in Nebraska in 1872. Morton promoted tree planting across his state and presented the idea of a state tree-planting holiday to the state board of agriculture.

The first Georgia Arbor Day was proclaimed by the Georgia General Assembly in December 1890. In 1941, the General Assembly set the third Friday in February as the day Georgia celebrates Arbor Day.