'Trees are good for our soul,' Mayor Jarvis says at Arbor Day celebration

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

About 40 second grade students got their hands a little dirty as they tossed and patted dirt around a tree planted in honor of Arbor Day at the Destin Kell-Aire North Park on April 29. 

“It was awesome,” said 8-year-old Reese Blankenship. 

The second graders from Hillary Ray’s and Lisa Brown’s class made a little field trip from the Destin Elementary School over to Kell-Aire on Friday morning to be part of the Arbor Day celebration. 

Aubrey Santucci of Coastline Tree Service helps to get the tree in the ground at the park on Arbor Day. The tree planted at Kell-Aire Garden Park was a Japanese red maple.

“I liked it … it was fun planting the tree,” said Mary Jane Morgan, age 8. 

After Destin Mayor Gary Jarvis welcomed visitors and Councilwoman Teresa Herbert led the group of about 60 or more gathered in the Pledge of Allegiance and introductions, Jarvis read an Arbor Day proclamation. 

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The proclamation stated that Arbor Day started back in 1872 and is a special day set aside for the planting of trees.  

But more than that, Jarvis told the children why the day is important to him personally. 

“I really like the outdoors,” Jarvis said. 

As the children sat around on the ground and listened, Jarvis told them how he likes to hunt and that he has land where he has planted a lot of trees. 

Destin Mayor Gary Jarvis read a proclamation about Arbor Day in Destin and then told those gathered why the day is important to him.

“Trees are good for our soul. If you’ve ever taken a book and sat under a big ole shady tree and just enjoy reading your book … the trees provide comfort to you,” he said. 

Of if you out there and having a hard day and you’re outside, “it’s nice to step under a shade tree and cool off … the comfort the tree provides temperature wise,” Jarvis said. 

But most important, Jarvis said, “trees are generational.” 

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"When you plant a tree, it stays there year after year after year. You may be long gone but somebody is going to come sooner or later and sit under that tree or they are going to drive by, walk by or ride their bicycle by and enjoy the beauty of that tree,” Jarvis said. 

The mayor told the children how he rode his bike around the whole neighborhood earlier that day. 

“I went up and down every single street. It’s just amazing the canopy we have here in Destin, just the pleasure it brings to your heart to enjoy that. I think this is a special day,” he said. 

Aubrey Santucci of Coastline Tree Service asked the children what was the most important thing a tree provides? 

Students from Destin Elementary School participated in the city of Destin/Parks and Recreation Committee Arbor Day Celebration.

Hands went up quick. The answer was oxygen. 

After Santucci told the children about it being the 150th year to celebrate Arbor Day, Matthew Sweetser, co-chairman of the Parks and Recreation Committee shared a tree planting story from years ago. 

He recalled planting a Magnolia tree at Destin Elementary School 34 years ago. 

Sweetser said it didn’t mean much at the time, but now it’s a memory he shares to let the children know the importance of the day. 

The tree planted at the park on Friday was a Japanese red maple. Each of the children was able to get down in the dirt and help with the planting. 

Before they left the park and headed back to school, they were given a juice box and a snack and a River Birch tree from Coastline Tree Service to take home and plant.