Noah's Ark takes part at Arbor Day celebration in Destin

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

The shovels were a bit big, but children from Noah’s Ark Pre-School grabbed hold anyhow and tossed dirt on the trees planted at the Nancy Weidenhammer Dog Park in Destin on Thursday morning.

The tree planting was part of the city of Destin’s annual Arbor Day Celebration. 

The trees for this year's event were donated by Compass Resorts, the Destin Chamber of Commerce's Destin Forward Class of 2021 and Trees on the Coast. 

Students from Noah's Ark Pre-School help shovel in dirt on a tree planted as part of the Arbor Day ceremony at the Nancy Weidenhammer Dog Park in Destin on Thursday morning.

“It’s a good little field trip for the kids,” said Angela Hayles, a teacher at Noah’s  Ark.

The staff walked the children over from the school on Indian Bayou Drive just around the corner from the dog park. 

Hayles, who works with the 3-year-olds, said in recent weeks they have been focusing on trees and the spring. The Arbor Day festivities were a chance for the children to see it firsthand. 

More Destin news:Spreading cheer, $5 at a time: Destin Library patron pays it forward with random act of kindness

More about town:'The Earth is not your ash tray,' says Destin volunteer on Earth Day

Destin Mayor Gary Jarvis opened the ceremony to thank folks for attending the event. 

Aubrey Santucci with Coastline Tree Service was the guest speaker.  

Aubrey Santucci of Coastline Tree Service was the guest speaker at the Arbor Day celebration at the Nancy Weidenhammer Dog Park in Destin on Thursday.

"We look at trees and think they are so pretty, but they serve so many different purposes,” Santucci told the 50 or more people who gathered for the ceremony. “They protect our homes from the wind. They protect our land from water erosion, and we’re surrounded by water here in Destin.”  

Santucci said Arbor Day was first observed in 1872 and was later recognized as National Arbor Day in 1972. However, she said it got its start in Nebraska, which basically didn’t have any trees. She told a story of how they held a contest and planted 1 million trees in one day throughout Nebraska. 

Members of the Destin Chamber of Commerce's Destin Forward class toss dirt on a tree planted at the dog park Thursday as part of the Arbor Day celebration.

“So we can thank Nebraska for National Arbor Day and what we are celebrating today,” Santucci said. 

The trees donated Thursday were live oaks. 

“The live oak is a symbol of strength,” Santucci said. 

The state tree for Florida is the sabal, a cabbage palm, which Santucci said she would like to see changed. 

Aubrey Santucci of Coastline Tree Service hands out acorns to the Noah's Ark children to take home to plant. Santucci was the guest speaker for the Arbor Day celebration at the Destin park.

Before she finished up, she gave each child in attendance an acorn to plant. 

“You guys are what strength is all about,” she told them. 

Right before the tree planting took place, Jarvis went a little off script and decided that it would be fitting to dedicate one of the trees to someone special. 

Destin family needs help:GoFundMe set up for 3-year-old boy with cancer, a sixth-generation grandson of Marler family

From the fish community:Destin Fishing Rodeo doesn’t just happen by itself in October

“I’d like dedicate that tree right there to a real good dear friend of mine,” Jarvis said, choking back tears. 

“He’s a legacy fisherman, a member of one of the founding families of Destin and he’s under hospice care," he said. "We’re praying for him daily. I thought it would be a fitting thing to honor Capt. Brant Kelly with that tree.” 

Destin Mayor Gary Jarvis welcomes those gathered at the Nancy Weidenhammer Dog Park on Thursday for the Arbor Day Celebration.

The mayor, with help from the city Parks and Recreation Department, children from Noah’s Ark and others, shoveled in the dirt on a tree and then the Destin Forward Class of the Destin Chamber of Commerce turned dirt over on another tree.

Four trees were planted at the park. 

The city has been named a Tree City USA community by the National Arbor Day Foundation to honor its commitment to urban forestry. This the 19th year Destin has received the national recognition.