By Brandon HENSLEY
On a day for remembrance and appreciation, and where a 13-year-old Boy Scout won his very own tree, the Crescenta Valley community held its annual Arbor Day celebration on Saturday at Two Strike Park from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Hosted by the CV Town Council and L.A. County Parks and Recreation, the theme this year was “The Volunteer Spirit of Crescenta Valley.”
The day was dedicated to the memory of Solveig Traeger, a former CV council member who was active in community service for many years. She passed away last month at the age of 78.
County Supervisor Mike Antonovich spoke in front of the crowd, and recounted a brief history of the beginnings of Arbor Day in the U.S., which dates back to Nebraska 138 years ago. One million trees were planted that day.
“Today we symbolically plant a tree recognizing the volunteer spirit of Crescenta Valley, and we applaud all of your efforts which make this community so unique,” Antonovich said.
An actual tree, a crape myrtle, will be planted on the southeast corner of Pennsylvania Avenue on Foothill Boulevard within the next month.
Antonovich also praised the efforts of the community over the last six months in what has been trying times.
“And we can see that…as we are recovering from the Station Fire, that we are having neighbor help neighbor, the community spirit, so that we are protecting ourselves from the mudslides,” he said.
Antonovich presented Town Council President Cheryl Davis with a proclamation for attending meetings to prepare for the Station Fire and assisting support agencies with the fire and floods.
Mary O’Keefe, the ubiquitous CV Weekly reporter, was also a speaker. O’Keefe is part of CV High’s Prom Plus committee and the Drug and Alcohol Prevention Coalition. Every third Friday she takes kids into her home and talks to them about the problems they face with drugs and school.
“We don’t just sit back and let things happen,” O’Keefe said of community. “We ask what can we do and we back that up with action and volunteerism.
“I am so proud and so grateful to have found a community that values each other enough to volunteer.”
Kathleen Ritner, deputy director of Parks and Recreation for the North Community Agency, talked about the role Two Strike has played in Arbor Day.
“The park itself was used to plant tress in honor of Arbor Day. After a while, we said we can’t take any more trees, it’s overpopulated in trees, but we do continue to host Arbor Day and plant trees somewhere else.”
According to Parks and Recreation, volunteers donate 27,000 hours per year for them, saving L.A. County around $500,000 annually.
Booths outlined the basketball court filled with information on various organizations and the option to (what else?) volunteer.
There were booths from the Boy Scouts of America, L.A. County Fire Department and the Community Emergency Response Team. Pam Gibson, regional manager of the Northeast Valley for TreePeople, was also there to talk about her organization. TreePeople volunteers are trained to help in tree planting, mountain restoration and in working in the group’s nursery, park and administrative offices.
La Crescenta Librarian Marta Wiggins headed up a booth where children could spin a wheel and receive books, dictionaries or other prizes depending on what color the wheel landed on.
Wiggins has been a CV resident for only a short time, but said she clearly recognizes the altruistic nature of the town. “I like this community a lot. I’ve been very impressed with how everybody really has a strong community spirit.”
Davis agreed. “Personally, I never volunteered for anything until I moved to the Crescenta Valley about eight years ago,” she said. “The whole atmosphere of the community is one of volunteerism.”
At the end of the festivities, a 12-foot California Sycamore tree was raffled off and the winner was Nick Naoumovitch, a Boy Scout who was visibly surprised upon hearing his name called.
“At the last minute I just put my name in,” he said.
Naoumovitch said he was happy he won, and had an idea of where it could go in his yard. “I know where to put it,” he said, adding, “My mom might be mad at me.”