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Tree event doubles as celebration of Persephone Guild
• Arbor Day observed in park
Persephone bench.jpg
Unveiling a new concrete park bench bearing the Persephone Guild logo are members Tammy Kline, Candy Brown, Jackie Wimberly and Nancy Johnson.

The city’s annual Arbor Day celebration of trees on Wednesday afternoon, April 17 also served as a salute to the Persephone Guild in the park for which the service club is named.

City staff members mixed with members of the club to plant three red maple trees in the park off of Lunar Drive.

City Recreation Manager Matthew Lohr praised the club for over 81 years of service to Ceres.

Club President Jackie Wimberly said her club was formed in 1931 by 10 women who had common interests, including the welfare of the community and their own enlightment. Membership today is limited to 32 members. She said the club is best known for hosting the annual Strawberry Breakfast at Ceres High School from 1982 to 2002.

She had on display the quilt that will be raffled off on May 9. The quilt drawing is one of the club’s major fundraisers. The club also held its recent Taste of Italy dinner at the Tuolumne River Lodge.

The club had donated funds to renovate the Daniel Whitmore Home, eradicate tuberculosis, Salvation Army camperships, scholarships, American Field Service program and the police Toys for Tots program, placement bike route signs around town, trees for Smyrna Park, Thanksgiving food baskets for three needy families and the children’s art wall at the Community Center. The club also participated in the city’s first annual Trunk or Treat event. 

“Every year we are involved in the Rotary Read-In and we purchase books and readers to go to the schools and we are continuing the tradition of scholarships – both for Ceres High School and for Central Valley High,” said Wimberly.

“We continue to work on improving life in the community. Our focus is strictly on the Ceres community and we are proud to be able to be a part of that. We’re always looking for new projects.”

One of those new projects was funding a new bench for Persephone Park near the children’s play equipment.

Vice Mayor Linda Ryno recounted that in 1982 the city was approached by Persephone Guild members about naming the park after their club. She presented a proclamation declaring April 17 as Arbor Day in Ceres, citing the history of the day whereby trees were planted. The first Arbor Day resulted in the planting of more than a million trees in Nebraska.

The city takes care of over 15,000 street trees and park trees.

Ceres has met the four criteria to be dubbed Tree City USA. The city must have:

• A tree board or department that plants and maintains trees;

• An annual Arbor Day observance;

• A tree care ordinance;

• A program that allocates at least $2 per resident for the care of city trees.

Lohr read a poem on trees written by Joyce Kilmer:

“I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest

Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,

And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear

A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;

Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,

But only God can make a tree.”

Officials with the city stressed that trees contribute to the quality of life in Ceres by helping cool and beautify properties, help clean air and place oxygen into the atmosphere, control erosion and raise property values. Trees help cleanse the air by intercepting airborne particles, reducing heat, and absorbing such pollutants as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. 

Arbor Day started in 1872 in Nebraska.