Arbor Day, a national holiday that celebrates the planting of trees and nature featured a special guest in Rexburg. This year, the City of Rexburg celebrated Arbor Day on May 18, revamping the name to “Flow-bor Day.”
Members in the community gathered on Main Street and at Porter Park to volunteer for “Flow-bor Day.” The event took place at 3:30 p.m., where volunteers picked up materials for planting around town. The activities finished around 5:30 p.m. in Porter Park after many trees were planted.
Over 100 people volunteered at the event. Free t-shirts were given to the first 120 volunteers. Pictures were taken with Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax and many volunteers took home free flowers and tree saplings to grow on their own.
The event was organized in accordance with Governor Little’s orders for Idaho’s reopening with volunteers practicing social distancing.
Among all of the planting activities, several speakers addressed the volunteers at the Beehive Pavilion.
Jerry Merrill, Rexburg Mayor, said, “We appreciate all who came and planted flowers with us. We had a magnificent turnout. In fact, we had more people then we had work to do.”
Gary Bates, the Community Forester at Idaho Department of Lands, presented Rexburg with the Tree City USA award. Bates works with cities all over Idaho on its tree programs.
Bates told the crowd the turn out for Arbor Day celebrations in neighboring cities had been small due to the recent pandemic. He acknowledged that the turn out for Rexburg’s event was the biggest so far out of all the cities.
“I’m so thrilled that we are actually planting trees today,” Bates said. “And that you all took the time to turn out and help today.”
Not only was this event a celebration for Arbor Day, but it was also a celebration of Porter Park’s history.
Porter Park is named after Arthur Porter, a man known as a “community builder” for Rexburg in the early 1900’s. Arthur Porter served as mayor in 1929. During his term he made efforts to clean up the local park, which was in poor conditions.
Many descendants of Arthur Porter attended the “Flow-bor Day” event and spoke to the crowd about the history of the park and the importance of being active in communities.
Lane Hemming grew up in his grandmother’s house across the street from Porter Park. The house still stands until now, 104 years after it was built. Hemming told the crowd stories about growing up when Porter Park was established in 1919.
“When I just drove down Main Street and saw the flowers, I was proud to be living in Rexburg, Idaho,” Hemming said. “I hope that it will grow. That it’ll be part of your lives as it’s been part of mine.”
Among the volunteer crowd was Annie Mounts, the great-great-granddaughter of Arthur Porter. She got involved with the event by creating a fundraiser with her friends for a Young Women project.
Mounts, with the help of her mom, designed a sticker to sell door to door and to local businesses promoting the Arbor Day celebration.
“I think this is so important for communities, being able to come with your family and friends and just be out in nature,” Mounts said.
She was able to raise money with her fundraiser to support the care of Porter Park.
Rachel Glaser, the director of the Student Representative Council, volunteered with other students from BYU-Idaho Student Support.
Glaser talked about how community activities allow students who are from different states to connect with the community where they are attending school.
“Events like these can bring everyone back together again,” Glaser said. “Being a student here that is not from Rexburg, it definitely brings the students and the community together.”