Township officials and residents got together over the weekend to clean up area parks, and plant flowers and trees in an effort to beautify the town and promote eco-friendly practices.
The 8th Annual Clean and Green Weekend, which this year was spearheaded by Councilwoman Monica Honis, featured a closing-day ceremony on Sunday afternoon to celebrate Arbor Day. National Arbor Day falls on Aug. 29 this year, but town officials and the Shade Tree Advisory Board celebrate Arbor Day in conjunction with the Clean and Green Weekend every other year, said Honis, who added that on the off-years, the town works with the Board of Education to do the tree planting during school hours.
This weekend’s activities ran from 9 a.m. to noon both Saturday and Sunday and took place at Argonne, Brooks, Coolidge, Brett and Terhune parks and at the Burial Grounds and the Municipal Greens. Although wet weather moved through the area over the weekend, volunteers still turned out to lend a hand, organizers said.
“Yesterday (Saturday), we had a really good turnout,” said Honis. “We had at least six different organizations divided among the three parks yesterday. Today (Sunday), was a little bit rockier. We had the Teen Clean guys at the Burial Grounds along with 10 other people."
Honis said the Teen Clean program is comprised of Teaneck High School students who, under the supervision of the township’s health department, clean up areas around Teaneck.
“They work a couple of times a week with the health department,” she said. “They came out yesterday and today to help.”
On Sunday, at the 1 p.m. Arbor Day celebration, five trees were planted at the northern section of Terhune Park, near the banks of the Hackensack River.
While rainy weather stayed away for Saturday’s activities, Mother Nature greeted the tree-planting ceremony with light showers. Despite the soggy ground and gentle rain, about a dozen people came to hear Mayor Mohammed Hameeduddin read an Arbor Day proclamation and to watch Department of Public Works employees plant Betulaceae trees.
Roby Langert, chairperson for the Shade Tree Advisory Board, opened the ceremony by recognizing the efforts of various township and municipal officials, Friends of the Greenway and members of the Shade Tree Advisory Board, whom are appointed by the Council.
“We advise the town on matters that relate to trees in the public right of way. We also assist in educating the public on the importance of trees,” Langert said of her board.
She explained that the type of tree being planted is also called a River Birch and grows to between 40 and 70 feet and bears fruit by early summer.
Hameeduddin spoke about growing up in Teaneck and admiring the beauty of the trees along Elm and Larch avenues.
“We in Teaneck, as well as our Council, have always been very, very supportive of planting new trees,” he said. “We’ve actually put in the budget another $50,000 to plant new trees, and I’m happy to say last week the 350-year-old tree on Cedar Lane has been saved. It’s not going anywhere. It was a lot of hard work by a lot of different individuals.”
After he and Honis shared the reading of the proclamation, eighth-grade Benjamin Franklin Middle School student Kamakshi Ranjan read a poem called An Arbor Day Tree, written by an anonymous poet.
Ranjan is the only student on the Shade Tree Advisory Board and has been a member since March 2010. She said she wanted to join because she cares for the environment.
“I think this is really beautiful having the trees and having a special day to plant trees and showing the children how to do it, so they continue doing it,” said Kamakshi's mother, Sheetal Ranjan.
After the ceremony, those in attendance were given saplings to pass out to friends and family or plant on their own property.
Kamakshi Ranjan, the BFMS student, walked away with several saplings. She said she was going to hand them out to her friends.
“I had fun today,” she said, as she hugged the young trees close to her chest so they wouldn’t fall.