Vice Mayor Paul Ray led the ceremony with a brief speech about Gulfport’s role as member of “Tree City USA.”
Ray then passed the mic to Recreation Supervisor Marivel Gutierrez who has been working with children from four area schools who attend the School Year Child Care Program. In preparation for Arbor Day, Gutierrez helped the children understand the importance of trees and their connection with their own quality of life.
“The trees planted on Arbor Day show a concern for future generations,” Jacob Wall, 11, told the crowd. “The simple act of planting a tree represents the belief that the tree will grow old and someday provide wood products, wildlife habitat, erosion control, shelter from the wind and sun, beauty and inspiration for ourselves and children.”
As the speeches concluded, Councilmember Dan Liedtke surveyed the group of children attending the ceremony, looking for volunteers to help make a significant environmental contribution. Five girls jumped at the chance to plant this year’s tree, a live oak, with golden shovels.
City staff distributed live oak and crape myrtle seedlings to the adults in the crowd. All remaining seedlings can be picked up, free of charge, from the Recreation Center lobby, 5730 Shore Blvd S. or the City Hall lobby, 2401 53rd St S., while supplies last.