Arbor Day celebration rooted in trees

La Mirada community members participate in scavenger hunt in Neff Park.


Rebecca Mitchell/THE CHIMES

Rebecca Mitchell, Writer

In support of Arbor Day, La Mirada hosted their first tree scavenger hunt on April 22 where participants searched for some of the city’s oldest trees, though Biola has some of the city’s oldest trees in the Olive Grove.

Living history

Families and La Mirada community members received arboretum guides, created by Fullerton Arboretum horticulturist Amy Bulone. The guides included a map of Neff Park with the trees numbered and the type of tree labeled. Senior recreation leader Sabrina Sermeno organized the scavenger hunt as a way to expand the city’s Arbor Day activities.

“I just love how the trees are actual living history. They’re all over a hundred years old, so that’s also really important for people to know and experience that these trees that they play under… have a story of their own,” Sermeno said.

The story of the trees at Neff Park began with Andrew McNally, who purchased the land in 1888 and gave Neff Estate to his son-in-law Edwin Neff. At the time, nature was a prominent feature in the life of affluent people and to have one’s own arboretum was amazing, according to Sermeno.

“There used to be tons and tons of trees. We’ve had people that have come to take a tour [of Neff House] and they remember from the ‘60s when they were little kids… it used to be like a jungle, they would have to duck under trees and everything because everything was so overgrown,” Sermeno said.

Interest lives on

While fewer trees exist in the park today, community members, including Austin Britton and his kids, remain interested in the different types.

“We’ve been to Neff Park before… and we’ve been fascinated at the different trees,” Britton said. “I think it’s putting names with the trees and learning about the different trees in the park, probably [have] been the two most exciting things for me.”

Future expansion

The trees, and the candy for participating, also interested chair of the La Mirada Historical Preservation Advisory Council Steve Thrasher and his grandson, who picked different numbered trees to find rather than searching for all of the trees.

“It’s been a lot of fun …[my grandson] came for the candy but now he’s actually enjoying hunting down the trees,” Thrasher said.

While finding the trees proved fun for families and community members, Sermeno hopes to expand the event next year for more of a focus on Earth Day rather than just Arbor Day.

“I’m super grateful that there was a big interest in it, but next year… I’d love to expand it to… make it much more centered on Earth Day, like flower demonstrations or gardening tips, how to plant a tree, how to take care of your trees,” Sermeno said.

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