Laguna Beach celebrated its trees Wednesday with its first-ever Arbor Day event.
City officials hope to make the festivities, which took place at Jahraus Park, a sliver of a grassy space off Cliff Drive, an annual tradition.
About 100 people came to see the festivities, which were highlighted by a planting ceremony of a Torrey pine, a rare pine species. Council members Toni Iseman, Bob Whalen and Rob Zur Schmiede, accompanied by a group of children from the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach, helped plant the pine in the park. They used golden shovels to toss dirt into a hole surrounding the pine's roots.
Community groups came to the event with booths to spread the word about their activities. Free succulents were available, as well as face painting and craft activities for children. Singer April Walsh and the South Laguna Garden Band provided live music.
Boards displayed throughout the park stressed the need for trees, citing studies that touted their environmental benefits — such as cleaner air and water — but also their apparent ability to help children score higher on tests.
Last month, the City Council declared March 7 to 14 Arbor Week in Laguna, a city first.
Ruben Flores came to the Arbor Day celebration wearing a green T-shirt that read "Party with trees." He was there spreading the word about the Laguna Beach Urban Tree Fund, endowed by Greg and Barbara MacGillivray. The fund is working to help the city replant missing trees in the downtown.
Flores and others helped encourage City Hall apply for the Tree City USA designation this year and celebrate Arbor Day.
"Finally," Flores said of the city's effort. "It has been five years, but it's getting there."
Hallie Jones, executive director of the Laguna Canyon Foundation, stressed how essential trees are in keeping Laguna's distinctive neighborhood character alive.
"The impact and importance of these trees cannot be overstated," she said.