Arlington Heights celebrated Arbor Day on Friday with help from students at St. James Elementary School in one of the many observances of the day in the suburbs.
After singing two songs about trees, several students in the second through fifth grades helped village and park district officials plant a new tree at Recreation Park on Friday morning.
"For the last 30 years, we've been celebrating Arbor Day, and for the last 20, we've been incorporating children from different schools throughout town, but this is the first year with St. James," said Mary Fran Leno, president of the Arlington Heights Park District Board.
Leno said the day was special for her because she and her children went through St. James and she lives near Recreation Park.
"We might grow up, we might move away and we might come back, but the trees are always going to be here," she said.
Dru Sabatello, the Arlington Heights village forester, presented Mayor Tom Hayes with a plaque naming the village a Tree City, a national recognition Arlington Heights has earned every year since 1985.
"Trees are a significant part of our community's identity," said Hayes. "The tree-lined streets make Arlington Heights very distinctive."
Although the village used to plant oak trees every year, there's been a focus on tree diversity since the emerald ash borer infestation started killing thousands of trees around the suburbs. The tree planted in Recreation Park on Friday was an American Hophornbeam tree. Sabatello said the village will make an effort to plant a different tree on each Arbor Day going forward.
"As we commemorate Arbor Day, we are reminded of the great resources trees provide and the beauty and value they bring us," Hayes said.