The community came together Friday to celebrate Arbor Day not only the dedication of two trees but also the transformation of Lee Penn Park through the efforts of people. Over the past several years, residents, community leaders and city officials have worked together to remodel the park so it can be enjoyed into the future.

Parks and Recreation director John Smith told the crowd gathered at the park about the progress that’s been made in the remodeling. He shared how the fire-damaged youth center had been removed and replaced with a covered basketball court. A new pavilion and replacement playground have been installed and the sports fields have been updated.

The new trees will continue to create a space for the community to gather and enjoy for years to come, he said.

“Trees have quite a few meanings to people. Some people think of them as lumber and building materials and firewood. Others see them as food producers (like) pecan trees and peach trees. Then others see them as shade for their kids to play under,” Smith said. “But today I want you to look at these two trees and see the future. We are designating these two live oaks because we know that they are going to be here for a long time. We know that this park, this community and the people that use it will be here for a very long time.”

Smith said he’s hopeful the two trees will still be standing hundreds of years from now and that people will be able to research this dedication and remember the event.

According to the Arbor Day Foundation, Arbor Day is an annual observance that celebrates the role of trees in people’s lives as well as promotes tree planting and care. It was first observed as a formal holiday in 1872 in Nebraska. Arbor Day is formally observed the first Friday in November.

Keep Waxahachie Beautiful Committee member Polly Williams offered up a prayer of dedication at the park, asking God to help the community build strong roots like the trees, both now and for the future generations to come. She asked God to bring the community together by uniting its members in love.

Fellow committee member Ginger Cole shared Smith’s thoughts about the important role trees play in the community.

“There is nothing that can make a town more beautiful than trees,” Cole said. “I am delighted to dedicate some trees here for Lee Penn Park and to our community.”

In honor of the occasion, Cole read Aileen Fisher’s poem about trees, “Let’s Plant A Tree.” The poem talks about the different types of trees and what they provide to people whether it be shade, food or beauty. Fisher encourages readers to find a tree they like and give it a home on their property for everyone to enjoy.

The two trees planted in Lee Penn Park were from the Allen Family and Wanda Terry, and the Park and Recreation Department.

Terry said the tree was planted in memory of her parents, Warren and Elsie Allen.

“It means a lot to us because it is a memory for us,” Terry said. “We can always come out here and look at the tree and remember them.”

Smith expressed his appreciation to everyone who had purchased a tree this year, including the Allen family and Wanda Terry, the Pruitt family, Eta Omega Sorority and the Woman’s Building Board, Keep Waxahachie Beautiful and the city of Waxahachie Parks and Recreation Department.

Smith also shared with the crowd that the city has a tree-planting program people can take part in if they wish to have a tree planted in the parks. Trees can be purchased for $300, with donors able to select from red oaks, live oaks, pecans or crape myrtles. Each tree is professionally planted and cared for by the Parks & Recreation Department.

Those interested in purchasing a tree can contact Smith at city hall, 401 S. Rogers St., or at 469-309-4000.

The trees planted Friday are located next to the covered pavilion and basketball court at Lee Penn Park, 404 Getzendaner St. in Waxahachie.

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