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For once, the local observance was not in downtown Portland, but on the east side...

DAVID F. ASHTON - The Ortiz family spends a moment with the Friends of Trees mascot, Garry Oak. By the time the rainstorm had passed, on Earth Day, April 22, people from all over the area were already on their way to the Mt. Scott-Arleta neighborhood to celebrate Portland's "Arbor Day 2017" in Mt. Scott Park.

The festivities, organized by Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R), featured bucket truck rides, hot food vendors, live music, an ecological scavenger hunt, tree climbing, and other family activities.

"During my tenure, Arbor Day has always been celebrated in the South Park Blocks, near Portland State University, among our wonderful big trees there," remarked PP&R Director Mike Abbaté. "But now – by having the event this year here, in Mt. Scott Park, we're getting out the message that we have significant trees everywhere in the city, while enticing people to come and visit this beautiful Southeast Portland park," Abbaté told THE BEE.

"And, we really do have reason to celebrate," Abbaté grinned. "For the 40th consecutive year, Portland has been named a 'Tree City USA', which illustrates the importance of the trees to all of our residents here."

Families were clearly having a great time at the free multicultural festival, participating in activities underneath towering Douglas Fir trees and learning from community organizations such as Friends of Trees, the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services, World Forestry Center, and the Portland Bureau of Planning & Sustainability, all of whom exhibited at the fair.

"We hope people take away from this a renewed appreciation for trees, and all that they do for us," commented the day's chief organizer, PP&R Urban Forestry Botanic Specialist Nik Desai. "This is what Arbor Day is all about; people celebrating community and gaining greater awareness and understanding about the wonderful things that these magnificent organisms do for us."

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