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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Japanese maple tree planted during annual Arbor Day celebration

Joan Pliego
Council members Tina Walia, Chuck Page, Kookie Fitzsimmons; Saratoga Foothill Club President Nancy Miller; Mayor Yan Zhao and Vice Mayor Belal Aftab (left to right) pose with the Tree City USA award.

The Saratoga Foothill Club buzzed with excitement on April 24 as dozens of community members gathered for the annual Arbor Day Celebration to commemorate the invaluable contribution trees bring to the environment and Saratoga’s proactive efforts to combat climate change. 

Guided by Mayor Yan Zhao, this annual tradition takes root in a symbolic act: planting a carefully chosen tree species in a designated location. This year, Zhao chose to plant a Japanese Maple tree at the Saratoga Foothill Club to replace a century-old oak tree that toppled in a rain storm in February. Zhao chose a Japanese Maple after consulting the Club, which agreed this species would best suit their environment. This tree planting ceremony represents the city’s continuous effort in making Saratoga more eco-friendly.

The event commenced at 3 p.m. with the Club President Nancy Miller extending a warm welcome and expressing gratitude that the oak had fallen away from, instead of on, the historic Julia Morgan clubhouse, a cherished city landmark. She then passed the podium to Zhao who explained the significance of celebrating trees on Arbor Day.

“Arbor Day is not just about planting trees, but about recognizing the profound impact they have on our environment: providing us with clean air to breathe, shade to cool us in the summer and habitats for countless species of wildlife,” Zhao said.

As Zhao concluded her speech, she announced that for the 17th year in a row, the city of Saratoga was awarded the Tree City USA recognition from the Arbor Day Foundation, honoring the city’s commitment to protecting and maintaining trees. 

Courtesy of Joan Pliego

Council members Kookie Fitzsimmons, Chuck Page, Tina Walia; Saratoga Foothill Club President Nancy Miller; Vice Mayor Belal Aftab and Mayor Yan Zhao (left to right) pose during the tree planting ceremony. 

The highlight of the event — the tree-planting ceremony — included Zhao, Vice Mayor Belal Aftab and council members Chuck Page, Tina Walia and Kookie Fitzsimmons. Each of them held a shovel and scooped a pile of soil onto the base of the newly planted Japanese maple. 

Following the ceremony, many of the community members lingered around, engaging in lively conversations while enjoying light refreshments. 

 “The city adopted a climate action plan many years ago and every year we have made efforts to reduce pollution,” Zhao said. “So, every year we celebrate Arbor Day because it’s important for community members to be aware of the city’s effort to combat climate change.”

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