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Arbor Day

Arbor Day 2018 and 2019 in Nebraska

Arbor Day is a public state holiday in Nebraska that is celebrated on the final Friday of every April. It is a day designed to promote the planting and appreciation of trees throughout the state in the hopes of creating a “greener” Nebraska.

201827 AprFriArbor Day NE
201926 AprFriArbor Day NE
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While the first tree-planting holidays were celebrated in Spain in 1594, and again in 1805, the first modern Arbor Day activities in the U.S. took place in Nebraska City, Nebraska, in the mid to late 19th Century. From there, Arbor Day spread to other states and countries, though not observed on the same day as in Nebraska.

The story began when J. Sterling Morton moved to the Nebraska region in 1854 and was struck by the absence of tree cover. Settlers in those days needed trees to break the wind, prevent erosion, and provide shade, so Mr. Morton began planting “a small forest” on his property. At his suggestion, his neighbors began to do the same.

Finally, on April 10th, 1872, Morton’s idea of a special tree-planting day became a reality. A million trees were planted throughout Nebraska in one day, and those who planted the most trees in their county won awards. From that time, Arbor Day was celebrated in Nebraska, but it was only in 1885 that it became an official holiday. Also in 1885, the date was moved to April 22nd because that was Morton’s birthday. In 1989, however, it was moved to the present date.

Things to do if in Nebraska on Arbor Day include:

  • Attend tree-planting events throughout the state and other celebrations, such as awards ceremonies, Arbor Day themed exhibits, music concerts, fairs, and season opening days at local gardening centers.
  • Go to Nebraska City, where Arbor Day first began and where it still has its most intense celebrations. There is a three-day, city-wide festival with craft shows, antique malls, free kids’ programs at Arbor Lodge State Park, season openings for all museums in the area, and of course, community tree plantings. Also stop by at the Arbor Day Farm to tour its fruit orchard and vineyards, engage in wine and cheese tasting, hike down wooded trails, and enjoy an evening bonfire.
  • See Pioneers Park Nature Center in Lincoln’s Pioneers Park. There are over 600 trailed acres to explore, ponds, prairies, bogs, and woodlands, a buffalo herd, elk, deer, owls, vultures, and other wildlife, along with live animal exhibits and various year-round organized activities.

There are plenty of official Arbor Day events in Nebraska every year, particularly in Nebraska City, and there are many other appropriate activities to take part in as well.