By: Harrison Neville
In the past, Arbor Day in Montevallo had been a crowded event full of vendors and people collecting their trees. While this year lacked the grandeur of the past, the tradition carried on nonetheless.
Like last year, Montevallo’s Arbor Day event was held at the Montevallo Recycling Center. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the decision was made by Montevallo Arbor and Beautification Board to downsize the event.
Instead of hosting a variety of vendors inside, the group set up tables outside manned by board members and extended their hours until 3 p.m. rather than ending at noon like they would normally. The idea behind this was that it would keep the event more spaced out and give people plenty of time to come by and pick up a tree without having to worry about a crowd.
John McKinnon, the chairman of the board, who is a former University of Montevallo student and employee, said he has been involved with the board for around 10 years, and has been the chairman for two of those years.
Though McKinnon hopes to return to a more normal setup for Arbor Day next year, he had positive things to say about how things went for this year’s Arbor Day.
At 10 a.m., McKinnon said he was “so far really pleased” with the event, and that they had “already run out of two different types of trees.”
McKinnon’s positive feelings were reflected by Olivia Barone, a former New Jersey resident who moved to Montevallo in 2019 to take the job of Sustainability Coordinator for the city.
“I think John’s done a great job,” said Barone, adding that she thought the event had gone “a lot better than expected.”
Herschel Hale, the former 12-year chairman of the Montevallo Arbor and Beautification Board echoed these sentiments, stating “we’re doing enough.”
One of the reasons that McKinnon and the other members of the board wanted to still host Arbor Day is because it is among the requirements in order to stay a recognized Tree City USA community, which Montevallo has been a part of for 27 years.
Hale described with pride the way that Montevallo’s Arbor Day event attracts visitors from outside of town. According to Hale, one of the best parts of the Montevallo Arbor Day is the way it welcomes people from all over to come and participate.
Throughout the morning, several families ventured in and out of the event, usually talking a little with the various board members before they picked up their sapling and headed back out. One of these families mentioned that they had just happened to see the signs up while driving by and decided to come check it out.
Arbor Day isn’t the only thing that the Montevallo Arbor and Beautification Board works on. They also hand out beatification awards to residents, but unfortunately, McKinnon said that he does not believe they will be doing it this year due to the difficulty of having the judges view the areas together.
The Board also does design reviews of the landscaping outside of new businesses in town, and helps out with some of the local parks. Recently, they participated in the planting of 10 trees in Orr Park.
“I think Montevallo continues to lead by example in all sustainability initiatives,” said Barone.