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Cyclists coming for Camdens Arbor Day Celebration
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Camden residents may see up to 105 cyclists with STIHL’S Tour des Trees heading towards the Colony Inn on Thursday, October 13 for Camden’s annual tree dedication ceremony for Arbor Day. 

Arbor is French for tree. Each year Camden hosts Arbor Day. It is a day celebrating the preservation and the planting of trees. America has been involved with it since the 1870s. Each state or city may have a different day to celebrate Arbor Day. Liz Gilland, Camden Urban Forester and local coordinator explained that South Carolina usually celebrates Arbor Day on the first Friday in December, but this year is special and Camden will celebrate it in October. 

Camden is a Tree City USA. The Arbor Day Foundation declares a city a tree city after these guidelines are met: (1) city must have a tree board or department that is accountable for decisions that impact community trees; (2) a tree care ordinance provides an opportunity to set good policy and back it with the force of law when necessary; (3) a community forestry program with an annual budget of at least $2 per capita toward the planting, care and removal of city trees; and (4) they must observe Arbor Day, said the National Arbor Day Foundation’s website. 

Benefits of being a Tree City: (1) encourages better care of community forests; (2) serves as a blueprint for planting and maintain a community’s trees; (3) helps a city receive grant money for trees or forestry programs, according to the Arbor Day Foundation’s website. 

According to a press release, STIHL Tour des Trees is the “primary community outreach and engagement event for the TREE Fund, combines great cycling, environmental education and outreach in an annual, weeklong celebration of urban trees.” A cyclist’s goal is to raise $3,500 for the TREE Fund; their goal is to maintain the world’s urban trees through research and education.  

“TREE Fund researchers have discovered better ways to propagate, plant, and care for urban trees, making them more resilient, more resistant to pests, and less prone to failure,” said the press release. 

Liz Gilland, Camden Urban Forester and local coordinator explained it.

Tour des Trees is a group of people from around the country who have a passion for trees and cycling.  Along the way, they meet other tree enthusiasts and help plant trees and educate children about the importance of trees.

From October 9 until October 14, cyclists will ride a total of about 565 miles between North and South Carolina. Thirty states (some include Maine, Indiana, Nevada, Louisiana, New York, Virginia and North Carolina) and three Canadian provinces are represented by the 105 cyclists. 

“Most will ride the entire Tour length, but they don’t have to,” Gilland said. “They can ride for just a day or two if they wanted.”  

Their arrival to Camden from Southern Pines, NC marks the fifth and longest day of the Tour, a total of 123 miles on Thursday, October 13. 

“It’s an exciting event to come to town,” Gilland said. “The TREE Fund could have chosen any other South Carolina city, but they chose Camden. “We are taking this opportunity of their visit to celebrate Arbor Day and commemorate their visit.  It works because they are coming around the time of our annual tree dedication.”  

A tree will be donated by The Camden Tree Foundation and planted at the National Steeplechase Museum on Thursday. On Friday morning, a kid-friendly education program about trees will be presented at Jackson Elementary School by Professor Pricklethorn (also known as, Tour rider and arborist Warren Hoselton). Another tree will be donated by the Tree Foundation and planted on the school grounds. Kids participating in the event will receive a book pertaining to trees. After all ceremonies, the cyclists will go to Charlotte, NC for their own celebratory of their weeklong ride. 

Gilland is glad people are starting to realize Camden as a special place with a lot to offer, even for tourism. She hopes the cyclists one day return for a visit.

She made a note on why trees are important. 

 “Trees are a necessity on so many levels,” Gilland said. “Not only for our emotional and mental well-being, but for our very survival. Some countries use trees for fuel. We use them for building products, paper products and food. Think about it: peaches, pecans, apples, lemons, limes and oranges.” 

 If people want to welcome the cyclists to town they will arrive at the Colony Inn on DeKalb Street Thursday afternoon between the hours of 3-5, Gilland said.