Your Tree Service owner Brandon MacAlpine planted seven Arbour Day trees on Friday, April 24th in Langley’s Williams Park to commemorate Langley residents who have made contributions to the community (Roxanne Hooper/Langley Advance Times)

VIDEO: A low-key Arbour Day remembers those who helped make Langley a better place

No public ceremony at commemorative tree planting due to coronavirus restrictions

This year’s Arbour Day tree planting in Langley was a quiet affair, with seven trees planted on Friday, April 24th in Williams Park at 238th Street and 68th Avenue.

There was no public ceremony, due to COVID-19 restrictions.

A mix of maple, oak and ash trees were planted within the area surrounded by the park’s drive loop by Langley company Your Tree Service, with owner Brandon MacAlpine and worker David Whiteside handling the task.

“Because of the current situation, we’re here by ourselves,” MacAlpine noted.

Seven people were recognized for their contributions to the community with the planting of trees in their name, including former Langley-Aldergrove MP Mark Warawa, Debbie Froese, wife of Township of Langley Mayor Jack Froese and devoted community volunteer, Mae Smith, community pioneer, Glenn Howes, dedicated community volunteer, Lucinda (Cindy) Anderson, dedicated community volunteer, Dean Drysdale, former Township of Langley Councillor and veteran and Rob Sampson, dedicated community volunteer.

When it came time to select a tree in memory of the late Debbie Froese, one in her favourite colour was selected.

“She loved red,” Jack Froese told the Langley Advance Times.

“They picked a type of [Maple] tree that turns red.”

He hasn’t been to see the tree yet, but staff took pictures that he has emailed to family members.

“It was certainly nice of council,” he said of the decision to have her commemorated.

Debbie Froese passed away at the age of 66, on Jan. 9.

READ ALSO: Hundreds attend celebration of life for Debbie Froese in Langley

In the case of Mark Warawa, a tree was especially appropriate, according to his wife, Diane Warawa.

“Trees and the outdoors were very, very important to Mark,” Diane commented, recalling how her husband would remove invasive vines from trees when he went for a walk in the local park..

“I appreciate the Township doing this,” Diane said.

“Our family is very honoured.”

She said Warawa’s entire family received invitations to the Arbour day event scheduled for Sunday, April 26, but they had to be rescinded because of the COVID-19 crisis.

Warawa passed away at the age of 69 on June 20.

On May 7th, he would have turned 70.

On that day, his family and friend are planning another tree-planting, not far from his Langley home.

It will be a small, well-spaced, event she confided.

“We’re going to do social distancing.”

READ ALSO: VIDEO: Mark Warawa remembered

Each spring, Arbour Day is held in a different parks throughout the Township to celebrate trees, recognize the importance of the urban forest, and encourage residents to be good environmental stewards.

Arbour Day originated in Nebraska, with newspaper editor, pioneer and nature lover Julius Sterling Morton.

In 1872, the State Board of Agriculture accepted Morton’s resolution to “to set aside one day to plant trees, both forest and fruit,” and the first Arbour Day was set for April 10.

In 1885, it became a legal holiday and April 22, Morton’s birthday, was selected as the day when it would be permanently observed.

Now, nations from Australia to Yemen set aside a day every April to plant trees and recognize their value.

The Township of Langley has been celebrating Arbour Day and the importance of the urban forest since the early 2000s.

– with files from Roxanne Hooper

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Debbie and Jack Froese at a Township of Langley volunteer appreciation banquets. (Langley Advance Times files)

Mark Warawa gave a double thumbs-up before the May Day parade got underway in Fort Langley last year. (Langley Advance Times files)

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