NISKAYUNA — People have been picking up restaurant meals, ice cream, chicken wings and beer during the spring of the coronavirus.
On Saturday, Niskayuna residents will pick up tree seedlings that will be delivered to their cars at Edwin D. Reilly Jr. Niskayuna Town Hall.
With large gatherings prohibited in a year that has brought social distancing and self-imposed isolation, Niskayuna cannot host its annual Arbor Day celebration. Town officials will still observe the occasion, and will distribute 185 trees between 11 a.m. and noon.
“What we’re going to do is, we’re preparing these take home plant-a-tree kits,” said town Planner Laura Robertson, who has helped organize the event with Carol Carey — president of the Niskayuna Tree Council — and elected officials.
“They’re going to have the bare root tree seedling, planting materials, an activity booklet for the family and instruction for planting the tree, ” Robertson said. “They’ll all be contained in a little bag we can literally hand to people through the windows of their cars.”
Restaurants and craft breweries have posted their menu choices, so have Niskayuna arborists. Candidates for front and back yard plantings will include black walnut, sugar maple, balsam fir, white spruce, rose of Sharon, paw paw and Eastern redbud.
Distribution will be on a first-come, first-served basis, and Robertson hopes people will visit Town Hall with three choices on their lists. That way, if one variety is no longer available, the other two might still be in stock.
Everything must go.
“They’re alive, so we’re encouraging as many people to come as possible,” Robertson said. “We do have a back-up plan. If we don’t give all the trees away, we can put them in our parks. I’d really like to give them away so people have something that can get them safely out of the house and celebrating, something they can do with their families and it seems like it would be fun.
“We’re not going to let any of them die,” Robertson said.
The Arbor Day observance will include a virtual component. At 1 p.m., after residents have planted their small trees, a live-stream program will be available through Niskayuna’s website. The hour-long show will include a proclamation read by Town Supervisor Yasmine Syed, words from Councilwomen Denise Murphy McGraw and Rosemarie Perez Jaquith and bits of entertainment.
“We’re going to have a bunch of fun things like tree jokes we can tell, we’re going to have a craft we can demonstrate, a fun story about trees, a quiz,” Robertson said. “Kind of just a fun live stream, people putting together kind of an Arbor Day show.”
Syed is preparing for a different kind of Arbor Day party.
“In years past, we’ve had everyone come to one of our parks, I read the proclamation and as I read the proclamation, the Parks Department plants the tree,” Syed said.
For Saturday, the parks guys will plant the tree — a dawn redwood — on the town green across from the Town Hall building in a scene that will be shown on the livestream. Syed will read the proclamation at the same time.
“Thank you to our Tree Council for their continued leadership in helping make Niskayuna greener and more livable,” McGraw said.
Robertson hopes people will play along at home. She also hopes people will take photos of their new trees and mail them to her at [email protected] The photos will be posted on the town website.
The tree pickups and virtual observances are not ideal, but Robertson believes families will have fun during the exercises.
“It’s different because we do want to keep everyone safe,” she said, “but I do think it is a good way to celebrate a day to plant with the family.”
Contact staff writer Jeff Wilkin at 518-641-8400 or at [email protected]