Two trucks carrying large Sylvester Date palm trees pulled into Holiday Isle on Thursday morning as part of a neighborhood beautification project happening along Gulf Shore Drive.
The new palm trees are the result of a partnership between non-profit Trees on the Coast and the Holiday Isle Improvement Association.
"So far we’ve planted 94 trees on Holiday Isle and today we’re adding another 42, all through donations," said Allen French, executive director of Trees on the Coast. "That brings us to a total of 136 trees planted."
French spent many years in Georgia, where he worked as a periodontist and served on the Alpharetta Tree Commission in Atlanta.
When he retired to the Emerald Coast, he brought his passion for tree conservation with him.
"Two years ago, we started our Plant a Tree, Honor a Loved One program, which has been extremely successful. We were excited when Holiday Isle approached us to partner with them on this project," French said.
HIIA board member Darryl Shelton said that the tree planting project has been a great success.
"We’ve received many compliments," Shelton said. "We’re now in phase two of the project, which will take the tree planting all the way to Destin Pointe."
So far, the HIIA has spent upwards of $80,000 on the trees, and other community members have donated smaller Sabal palm trees in memory of a loved one.
The trees lining Gulf Shore Drive are wrapped in 13-volt lights which produce an ethereal glow at nighttime.
"That took lots of effort and coordination with Gulf Power," Shelton said about the tree lights. "It was a little on the expensive side because we had to install more transformers."
Trees on the Coast is also working on plans for a future project along Airport Road.
"We’re going to plant between 50 to 60 live oak trees in the median out there," French said.
According to French, Trees on the Coast is looking forward to partnering with other businesses and associations in the future.
"Planting trees is a win-win situation for everyone," French said. "It’s all done through tax deductible donations. It doesn’t cost the city a penny and it doesn’t cost the taxpayers a penny."