Members of the Pittsfield community gathered to celebrate Arbor Day at Pitt Park. The park was founded 100 years ago, one of the city’s first parks.
The public gathered in the park under the branches of an Eastern Cottonwood tree that Jim McGrath, Parks and Open Spaces Director for the City of Pittsfield, said was here before the city was founded. It is at least 300 years old.
"We're pleased that we can celebrate this grand champion on Arbor Day," said McGrath.
Eighty-six feet tall and nearly 25 feet around, the tree was recognized at the ceremony as a Massachusetts State Champion Tree. It’s believed that the cottonwood is the largest of its kind in the commonwealth, and may be the second-largest tree in the state. The largest is believed to be the so-called Buttonball Tree, located in Sunderland.
Bob Mellace is the West Region Director for the state Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Mass Parks. He said that the Arbor Day Foundation includes Pittsfield among one of the state’s “Tree Cities.”
"In order to recognized as a Tree City you have to show interest in tree and tree planting," said Mellace. "Massachusetts has more Tree Cities than Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Hampshire combined."
At the event, Bob Presutti received a recognition of service for his years of volunteer work in the City of Pittsfield. Presutti, an arbor-culturalist with Springside Park and Pittsfield Tree Watch, said few words at the ceremony, but later helped plant a small black birch tree in his honor.
The first Arbor Day was held in 1872 and in the United States is held on the last Friday of April.