Sunday, April 10, 2011

One Thing That's Green For The Records - Nearly 900 Volunteers Plant 180 Trees In MacDonald Park & Forest Hills Surroundings

MacDonald Park with newly planted trees by volunteers

Nearly 900 volunteers help restore the tree canopy of MacDonald Park & nearby Forest Hills sites, including a tree to be planted on the Queens Boulevard median
MacDonald Park with trees ready to be planted in the footprint of those destroyed by the 9/16/10 macroburst

5 year-old trees slated for planting in MacDonald Park
Historic MacDonald Park devastation after the macroburst

To be missed: MacDonald Park with its monumental yet graceful pillars
Most of these trees were lost. May the new plantings mature before our eyes!
Queens Blvd's historic tree canopy: Most of MacDonald Park's mature trees, particularly on the western side may have been blown away, but this classic scene from a few seasons ago will not be forgotten.
Hats off to One Thing That's Green, or what some may refer to as Forest Hills Community Day, which became more of a citywide community cause in the heart of Forest Hills. April 9, 2011 (9 AM - 2:30 PM) is one day for the records!

Forest Hills was one neighborhood which sustained some of the worst devastation during the Sept 16, 2010 tornadoes, and a total of 3,113 trees were lost in Queens, Brooklyn, & Staten Island. Chairman Michael Perlman & board members of Rego-Forest Preservation Council have documented the tornado's fury, first recommended Forest Hills for tree replanting projects last fall, and assisted NYRP in the property survey over the course of the last few months. On March 26, 2011, Michael Perlman of RFPC & Steve Melnick of the Queens Boulevard Restoration Group joined forces, and erected a table and poster board on Continental Ave, distributed flyers, signed up volunteers on a netbook, and thankfully received permission to use wi-fi from Starbucks at 107-12 Continental Ave.

Let's extend a huge thank you to local & citywide volunteers, who planted 79 trees in our MacDonald Park (the center of the event) on April 9th, our Yellowstone Park, as well as other historic sites, which include PS 303, The James Madison & The Benjamin Franklin apartment houses (communal gardens included). The diversity of the tree species in MacDonald Park increased with newly planted Japanese Zelkovas, Red Oaks, Winter King Thornless Hawthornes, and more. Around 180 trees were planted within a few hours' time, proving how each person can account for a major difference in our communities.

A huge thank you to the NY Restoration Project, JetBlue, Million Trees NYC, PlaNYC, NYC Parks,  colleagues at Rego-Forest Preservation Council, Queens Boulevard Restoration Group, The Beacon Program, KTU 103.5 FM, Z100, & 106.7 Lite FM, BNP Paribas, Toyota, etc.

Volunteers numbered around 860, which was far more than the expected 500-600 volunteers, and spanned many generations. It was very inspirational to see everyone who arrived early, with the face of civic pride and a vision. What a great sense of community!

The diverse citywide faces line up to help restore Forest Hills, symbolizing "a blockade against tornadoes!"

Some volunteers from Rego-Forest Preservation Council
Councilmember Karen Koslowitz

State Senator Toby Stavisky
Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi
Queens Borough President Helen Marshall

When volunteers registered, they received color-coded wristbands, which determined which group they would be placed in, and where they would plant trees. Volunteers were served breakfast, and listened to opening speeches by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, CM Karen Koslowitz, BP Helen Marshall, Deputy BP Barry Grodenchik, radio station personalities, a JetBlue safety expert, and a representative of the NY Restoration Project. Then everyone repeated a green empowerment slogan, ending in "Now I will do my one thing that's green!"

The youngest of children receive a lesson in community service in MacDonald Park

Power to the people!

Members of the Beacon Program with "going green" Chairman Michael Perlman of Rego-Forest Preservation Council
Curb tree pits also received a Very Important Plant treatment
Besides planting at MacDonald Park, volunteer groups crossed Queens Blvd with NYRP staff, carrying huge banners reading "Million Trees NYC" & "Do One Thing That's Green." Groups cheered at each other when arriving at each site within close proximity (symbolic of a competition). A tree planting demonstration was done by The James Madison curb tree pit. Some street trees were also planted elsewhere.

Crossing Yellowstone Blvd towards Yellowstone Park, The Thomas Jefferson, The James Madison, & PS 303. Long may they wave!
Volunteers outside The Thomas Jefferson
Volunteers gather outside The James Madison, watching a tree planting demonstration. & anticipate planting on the lawn
As a token of appreciation, around 1,000 catered buffet-style lunches were provided by Dallas BBQ, and families and friends dined in the newly planted MacDonald Park, admiring their accomplishments. Children participated in a number of additional activities, such as hula hoops and a match game. An owl, bird, turtle, iguana, and a snake were available for petting. "Queen of Freestyle" Judy Torres performed her classic hits, including "No Reason To Cry," "Come Into My Arms," and "Faithfully," and the crowd cheered her on. Then a a few raffle drawings were held, and people won complimentary flights on JetBlue. Amy Freitag, Executive Director of the New York Restoration Project thanked volunteers, waving adieu.

A picnic lunch, Forest Hills-style!
Statue of Gerald MacDonald watches over in pride
Petting zoo demonstration
Sharing is caring!
Freestyle singer Judy Torres engages audience participation
The new 14+ ft trees in MacDonald Park are at least 5 years old, and have quite a way to mature, to match the small quantity of 30-60 year-old trees which survived the 9/16/10 macroburst. A child said they will return in 20 years to see the tree they planted grow much taller. Not only was a tree planted, but a heart in Forest Hills.

The day in photos speak louder than words, so relive the memories, courtesy of Chair Michael Perlman of Rego-Forest Preservation Council:

Some photos from the tornado in Forest Hills:

With deep gratitude to all,
- Michael Perlman, Rego-Forest Preservation Council, Chairman


  1. I was happy to volunteer with other dedicated members of our community for this worthwhile event.

  2. Thanks to you Michael and your wonderful talk at our co-op. Russ and I really enjoyed being a part of such a positive and healing event.

  3. Thank you and your colleagues for presenting me with a fine opportunity. Education and teamwork is the old-time recipe, and the rewards are to be embraced. Hopefully, we will have similar projects to anticipate, which involve landmarking, tours, presentations, and tree planting events.