Arbor Day takes root again for First Fridays

May 3—GOSHEN — As in previous years, this year with a promoted theme of "Together with Trees," Arbor Day was honored at Goshen First Fridays.

By shortly after 5 p.m. the Elkhart County Courthouse lawn was bustling with ecofriendly artists, vendors and advocacy groups.

Yet as always, Main Street was also charged — this year with electric vehicles, with an estimated 18 in total, on display by their individual owners, near the intersection with Lincoln Avenue.

Dennis Gales, Hammond, is one such owners, attending the event with his fully electric Ford F-150 XLT Lightning.

"It rides like a Cadillac," Gales said, adding that his electric truck cost $62,000, with options. "Super smooth, super powerful."

Leah Thill, of the Michiana Area Council of Governments, said that the purpose of displaying the EVs is to give people a chance to talk the drivers as well. She said that all of the drivers are local, with no dealership represented at this year's event, unlike previous years.

"I'm really excited about the event," Thill added. "Every year we see new vehicles and new models at the event."

Back over at the courthouse, and on Main Street in front of it, groups such as Trees for Goshen, the Goshen Stormwater Board, the Goshen Department of Environmental Resilience, Woods on Wheels and others had representative on hand, promoting their particular environmentally friendly product and/or services.

Goshen City Forester Aaron Sawatsky-Kingsley served as an emcee for the event, introducing student singing performers and providing an overview of Goshen's particular Arbor Day history.

"I'm so grateful to have you here tonight," he told the audience.

According to Britannica (online), Arbor Day is observed in many countries by planting trees. It was first proposed in the 19th century by J. Sterling Morton, an American journalist and politician, who famously wrote, "Other holidays repose upon the past; Arbor Day proposes for the future."

Sawatsky-Kingsley said that Goshen began celebrating Arbor Day in 1996, at Shanklin Park, and the event has grown throughout the years since.

"We're coming up on 30 years," he said.

Jordan Ware, of the Elkhart Aquatics Program, helped give kids a chance to touch sunfish and map turtles, in tanks at their information tables.

"It's hectic but good," she said. "We love it."

Cornerstone Christian Fellowship hosted "Plant a flower, eat some dirt" at the church a the corner of Lincoln Avenue and Fifth Street, giving out petunias and marigolds.

"Everybody can make some dirt pudding," said volunteer Wendy Law.

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Steve Wilson is news editor for The Goshen News. You can reach him at