Did you know that the founding of Arbor Day in Florida is rooted in DeFuniak Springs? In 1885, the leader of the National Arbor Day Movement made a presentation on the Florida Chautauqua campus/resort grounds which inspired Florida Governor William Perry, who was in attendance, to later declare Arbor Day in Florida.
Today, City leaders participate in a tree planting ceremony with leaders of the Florida Chautauqua Association honoring the famous or notable keynote speaker attending the annual assembly each January. This ceremony not only promotes the planting of young trees on the historic grounds, but also teaches us about the historic individuals who joined in planting them. The City of DeFuniak Springs is also designated a Tree City USA by the National Arbor Day Foundation.
Below is information about recent tree planting ceremonies on the Florida Chautauqua grounds (also known as Chipley Park) on Circle Drive in commemoration of Arbor Day and in celebration that "it all started here."
City and Chautauqua leaders broke tradition during the annual Assembly to honor the late Ebert Sconiers and all American Veterans with a tree planting ceremony (instead of the featured keynote speaker). Ebert's remains were recently discovered overseas where he died as a WWII POW. Since his remains returned home to DeFuniak Springs at the same time of the Florida Chautauqua Assembly, local leaders decided to honor him and all American veterans with a tree planting ceremony. Lt. Sconiers remains were brought to the ceremony where his family, Chautauqua, local, state, and Florida Forest Service leaders participated planting the tree.
The Honorable Wallace Bruce was the longest sitting Florida Chautauqua President (1888-1889, 1893-1914), Former U.S. Consul General to Edinburgh, Scotland, author, lecturer, and beloved citizen of DeFuniak Springs.
Child star Jerry "The Beave" Mathers of "Leave it to Beaver" joined City, Chautauqua and Florida Forest Service leaders and planting a tree in his honor on the north side of the historic Chautauqua Hall of Brotherhood.