A banner hung on the fence next to the podium dignifying Gulfport with the title of Tree City, USA.
“We do a lot to support Florida and good urban forestry,” Mayor Sam Henderson said.
The buttonwood was planted in the same spot where two previous trees were located. The city hopes for better luck with this one.
According to Henderson, one tree was struck by lightning while another one was stolen. Gulfport city employee Lance Kimbrel, who helped plant the tree in the ground, added that it was stolen presumably because buttonwood trees are considered ideal for smoking mullet.
Kimbrel also added that years ago, fishermen had all but wiped out the buttonwood from the area so they could smoke fish with its wood.
But this tree was planted by the children from the School Year Child Care Program who stood tall next to the podium and read information about different types of trees, including the buttonwood. One member of the program, Tory, who elegantly described the tree over the PA system said, “It makes and outstanding beachfront tree.”
The children explained to the crowd that the buttonwood was chosen because it is native to Key West and will thrive in the environment provided by the warmth of Gulfport Beach.