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Tree Week 2023 kicks off with community celebration

Lexington Third District Councilmember Hannah LeGris talks at the Climate Conversations table during the first day of the sixth annual Tree Week event on Friday, Oct. 7, 2023, at Castlewood Park in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Samuel Colmar | Staff

Over 100 members of the Lexington community gathered to celebrate the second annual Tree Week Kickoff, according to Mary Arthur, a member of the Tree Week planning team. 

Tree Week, an annual week-long celebration of the trees in the community, kicked off Friday, Oct. 6 at Castlewood Park in Lexington, Kentucky. 

Live music was provided by the local indie band Lylak, and attendees were encouraged to grab a  cold beer from Lexington’s own West Sixth Brewing while listening. Food trucks Cookies and Cream and Olmeda’s Mexican Grill on Wheels also attended, providing families with local eats as they browsed the tables of different nature groups. 

“This is only the second time we’ve had a real kickoff,” said Heather Wilson from the City of Lexington Department of Urban Forestry. “We have planted a signature tree every year, but this is the second organized event where we have a lot of our organizations here tabling with information.”

Organizations such as Trees Lexington, Fayette County Conservation District, Wild Ones and Kentucky Resource Council were a few of the many groups tabling Friday evening.

Several members of the city council and the mayor’s office were also present Friday evening to enjoy the live music and event. Lexington Council At-Large and Vice Mayor Dan Wu gave an introduction speech to kickoff the event and declare Tree Week 2023 Oct. 6-15. 

“I’ve attended every kickoff week event for Tree Week since it started,” said James Brown, an at-large council member of Lexington and Fayette County. “I think it’s important that we continue to raise awareness as far as the importance of trees and what they mean to our neighborhoods and the environment and how they improve our quality of life.”

Tables complete with displays of information and brochures on the events being hosted for the upcoming week and even a few tree saplings were set out for attendees to browse and learn more about. 

“I think Tree Week is really important because it brings people together to think about not just trees, but our environment and how important that is even in an urban setting such as Lexington,” said Shelby Grow, administrative support for Lexington Tree Week 2023. “It brings together people who care for trees, who dedicate their careers to doing this kind of work, and it also brings together people who maybe are unaware or haven’t thought about the real importance of trees.”

The event catered to both those who were knowledgeable of the tree world and attendees who were curious about how to get more involved in protecting the environment from climate change. Tree Week provides over 90 events centered around nature for people of all ages to enjoy, according to Wilson. 

“I’ve always appreciated trees until I got with Wild Ones, and it is so much more than just planting a tree,” Tee Bergman from the local chapter of Wild Ones Native Plants said. “It’s loving that tree and helping other people to make good choices about trees. So to me, my wealth of knowledge has grown, but I’ve also realized it’s something I can share with people and also provide them help. I grew up on a farm, so I have always had an appreciation for nature.”

The live music, food and drinks were newer add-ons to the kickoff this year, hoping to draw even more citizens in than last year, which only attracted about 60 people, Wilson said. 

This year’s kickoff drew in more people than Tree Week planning members expected. 

“I listened to Heather Wilson on WRFL yesterday speaking about it, and I was interested to see what was going on and learn how to get more involved with tree planting,” event attendee Rachel Owens said. “I do the tree planting in the spring, and I’ve done it for the past couple years, so I’m just excited to learn more.”

Events are taking place all around the Lexington area such as tree yoga, hiking and many other nature centered activities. More details on weekly events can be found here.

“We are living in a time of climate crisis and I feel like people don’t want to talk about it. People don’t want to face it and people don’t want to admit it,” Arthur said. “I think if we draw people out of the woodwork to talk about trees, it’s sort of like a gateway to getting them to think more deeply about the climate and the importance of the role of trees.”

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