Climbing demonstrations are performed for visitors attending Keep Roswell Beautiful Arbor Day at Spring River Park & Zoo, Saturday morning. (Mark Wilson Photo)
By 9 a.m., a line of excited children and seniors waited to receive free tree seedlings for the 23rd annual Arbor Day commemoration at Spring River Park & Zoo, Saturday.
There were 10 different trees to choose from, and everyone received two seedlings. They are encouraged to plant the trees and continue Roswell’s 23-year reputation as a tree city, the only city in New Mexico that can claim such a success.
Keep Roswell Beautiful sponsors the Arbor Day gathering. Renee Roach, KRB coordinator and city marketing director, has been part of the Arbor Day festivities for eight years and says the excitement of the children is the best part of the event.
“[It’s great] when they learn about the tress and then say ‘Let’s go plant it!’” Roach said. “The kids get it. They get us excited.”
Parents might promise to plant the tree later, but it’s the kids who usually insist on planting it immediately. But children are not the only ones excited about trees. Zoo director Elaine Mayfield “loves trees and keeps us in touch with the environment,” Roach said.
Mayfield enjoys watching so many people get excited about trees as they realize and look forward to the multiple year commitment involved in planting and nurturing a tree.
It’s a great tradition to teach kids to plant, Mayfield said. And some adults are just as excited about this annual tree planting. Roswell native Donald Jones has been going to the Arbor Day event for five years, and the lacebark elm he received the first year is now more than six feet tall.
“Every year he just can’t wait for Arbor Day,” Roach said.
And to add to the excitement, breakfast foods were served, dancers and singers entertained and Smokey Bear made an appearance, posing for pictures among many excited kids and adults alike.
KRB board member Paula Jean volunteers because she knows the importance of trees.
“We can always do something to improve the environment,” she said. “This is a start.”