Reading celebrates Arbor Day with tree planting and time capsule dedication

City leaders and residents gathered in Reading’s City Park Friday morning in observance of Arbor Day, an occasion dedicated to celebrating the importance of trees in our communities. This year, the city planted a total of 17 trees, 3 in City Park and 14 in Schlegel Park.

The event, which took place near Rose Garden Road, adjacent to the Dove statue, aimed to highlight the significance of trees as vital assets to urban environments. Trees not only enhance the visual appeal of neighborhoods but also contribute to reducing cooling costs, removing air pollutants, and provide wildlife habitats.

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“We always like to remember our late council mate and our good friend John Slifko, who was sort of the Johnny Appleseed of Reading. John as many of you know planted 700 trees throughout the city over the course of his 30+ years here. I don’t think Arbor Day goes by that those of us who were his friends, colleagues, neighbors in Center Park, that we don’t think of John” said Council President Donna Reed during the ceremony.

The Tree City USA program, sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation in collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters, recognized municipalities that demonstrated dedication to urban forestry management. The City of Reading earned this prestigious designation by fulfilling four key requirements: maintaining a tree board or department, a tree-care ordinance, an annual community forestry budget of at least $2 per capita and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation.

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In addition to the tree planting ceremony, the event featured the burial of a time capsule to commemorate the 275th Anniversary of the City of Reading. Located at the south end of the Rose Garden circle in City Park, the time capsule contained items contributed by various stakeholders, including the 275th Anniversary Committee, city departments, local businesses, organizations, and residents. Among the contents were postcards addressed to future residents of Reading, offering glimpses of life in the city in 2024.

“I just want to say thank you to everyone in the City of Reading, residents, city employees, all of the local businesses and community organization that were part of marking this milestone in the last year. To everyone who put something in the time capsule, we look forward to opening this in the future,” said Laura Reppert, the 275th Anniversary Event Coordinator.

“It’s very fitting that it’s been buried next to an eastern redbud tree, which is a tree that may be the very first settlers would’ve seen of Reading when they came here.”

During the ceremony, Reed also addressed the controversy surrounding the recent opening of the 250th anniversary time capsule, in which local residents debated if it should have been opened last month or in 2048 for the 300th anniversary.

“We will be determining if the time capsule will be opened in 25 or 50 years. The committee will vote on that, but we will have four points of reference to catalog and document our decision so there will be no question if it’s to be open in 25 years, the documentation will be there, if it is to be opened in 50 years, the documentation will be there. If you’re around in 25 or 50 years when the decision is made, we hope you’ll be there for the opening of it,” said Reed.

The time capsule will remain buried in City Park until the City of Reading celebrates its 300th Anniversary in 2048 (pending a vote to extend the opening date) when it will be opened to reveal its contents to a new generation of residents.

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Berks Weekly
Berks Weekly
Berks Weekly is an independent and locally owned digital newspaper covering the City of Reading and Berks County. Subscribe today: berksweekly.com/subscribe
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