Inn Yard Park has a new addition, thanks to the help of students from Thomas Mifflin and Wissahickon Charter schools. On Friday, the students joined their teachers and community representatives in planting an “Autumn Blaze” maple tree in the center of the park. It was all part of the 17th annual East Falls Tree Tenders Arbor Day celebration.
Alice Reiff, the founder of the East Falls event, says she didn’t even know what Arbor Day was 17 years ago.
“I became a part of the East Falls Tree Tenders and during one of the meetings, there was a presentation on how to create an Arbor Day celebration in your community.” Reiff said. “So I started one.”
Reiff, along with fellow Tree Tenders Cynthia Kishinchand and Sue Park, coordinated the day’s events which included Native American songs and dances, parachute games, bubbles, and fish printing for the kids. Lunches and juices were provided by the Philadelphia Housing Authority and Roxborough ShopRite. Classes sang songs about the water cycle and learned how to incorporate Earth Day into their daily lives.
It’s just gotten “better and better every year”, says Mifflin Head Start teacher, Daniel Hartzog. He and his class have been coming to the park for the celebration for 12 years and he said he’s impressed by the love that the organizers put into the activities and beautifying the East Falls neighborhood. Hartzog introduces his three and four-year-old students to environmental stewardship by first having them help to take care of their classroom, then moving to their playground, and eventually, they’ll be working on the outside perimeter of their schoolyard.
Joan Blaustein, Fairmount Park’s Director of Environmental Programs, accepted a Tree City USA award for Philadelphia from District Forester Joseph Fascetta, which has been a part of the program for 36 years. In a statement by Mayor Michael Nutter, he acknowleged how Arbor Day calls attention to what trees bring to our life.
According to Wissahickon Charter School first grader Dakota Whitman, it’s important to plant more trees because “they help us breathe and are nice in our community.”