Earth day tree rededication in Santa Monica
About 30 green-clad people bared the frigid winds in Santa Monica Palisades Park, just north of the entrance to the Santa Monica Pier, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the planting of the Children's Tree of Life on Monday.
Before the opening ceremony, a moment of silence was held for the victims of the Boston Marathon. Jerry Rubin, peace and environmental activist and event coordinator, said that it was a tragedy that fell on planet Earth.
Rubin spoke on behalf of all three victims who had been killed in the explosions, most notably 8-year-old Martin Richard. Wrought with emotion, Rubin had to pause several times to collect himself.
“I still remember the beautiful sign he was holding that said 'No more hurting people — peace,'" Rubin said. “It's a message we are trying to convey here today.”
Rubin said that promoting environmental and peaceful messages can mend society, even in the face of monumental tragedies.
People gathered and listened solemnly as the glow of the green solar-powered Ferris wheel lit up the darkening sky.
Following an opening drum ceremony, led by Ossie Mair, founder of OM Rhythm Circles, Rubin spoke of the tree's history.
The tree was first planted in the Santa Monica Palisades Park at an Earth Day peace celebration April 22, 1983.
The tree was officially proclaimed by late Santa Monica Mayor Ken Edwards on April 16, 1984 as a "living monument to world peace," according to the original proclamation.
Rubin married his wife Marissa, who was present at the celebration, in front of the Children's Tree of Life 30 years ago, and has been deeply involved in the upkeep and spirit of the tree.
The young tree, a New Zealand Christmas Tree, has been destroyed three times , twice by vandalism and once by accident, and has been replanted each time.
Although this is the fourth tree planted, Rubin believes that all the past trees have emanated the same message of peace and community.
Youngest participant, 2-and-a-half-year-old Elias Washington, who was an honorary recipient of the No Toy Guns Award this year, helped light a piece gavel, which was a small, dark red, heart-shaped candle. Although the candle took several matches and a lighter before the flame caught, the little light bared the heavy winds for the remainder of the evening.
“Peace is possible, but it's up to us to make it happen,” Rubin said.
Former mayor Judy Abdo read the city's proclamation for this year, written by current mayor Pam O'Connor, proclaiming Earth Day in Santa Monica as the "Children's Tree of Life Public Rededication Day."
The tree was blessed by Rev. Janet McKeithen of the Church in Ocean Park. Rubin requested people touch the tree — or touch someone touching the tree — while it was being blessed.
Marissa and Jerry Rubin read their favorite poems, and guests spoke, recited poetry and sung environmentally friendly songs.
Rubin requested a second, more embracing tree hug after the presentations.
“As an organizer I want to try and get us so connected today,” Rubin said. “Give [the tree] the best tree hug we can give."