Sweetgum tree takes root as Arlington Heights celebrates Arbor Day

Arlington Heights Park District and village officials celebrated their 38th Arbor Day program Friday with the planting of a sweetgum tree in Pioneer Park.

The sweetgum has a life span of 150 years and doesn't produce seeds for the first 15 to 20 years of its growth. It can grow to a height of 75 feet.

Second-graders from nearby Westgate Elementary School read poems and gave a speech presentation in sign language about the importance of Arbor Day. Tree drawing contest winners in three age categories for children in grades prekindergarten through six received awards.

The first Arbor Day took place on April 10, 1872 — the brainchild of Julius Sterling Morton, a Nebraska journalist and politician.

In Arlington Heights, the park district maintains a network of 58 parks on more than 700 acres.

  Westgate Elementary School second graders Nora LeFevour, 8, and Jenna Jares, 8, hold a sign at the celebration of Arbor Day Friday in Arlington Heights. Mark Welsh/
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