If cities had mascots, Murray's mascot would have to be the tree.

Dignitaries and schoolchildren celebrated Murray's trees Friday morning in a "Trees for Tomorrow" Arbor Day ceremony at Murray City Park.Gov. Norm Bangerter and Murray Mayor Lavar McMillan signed proclamations, honoring trees for their enhancement of the environment.

A tree was planted in the park, commemorating Arbor Day.

Hillcrest Junior High school students performed musical numbers.

The ceremony was brief, however, because of the chilly weather. Showing courtesy to the children who were shivering in the cold breeze, Bangerter and McMillan limited their remarks to just a few minutes.

Following the ceremony, McMillan told the Deseret News he would like to talk a little more about Arbor Day - and what it means to Murray citizens.

In 1919, Arlington Elementary School children planted maple trees in front of their school. The school, which has since been refurbished, now serves as Murray City Hall, 5025 S. State. The full-grown trees contribute to the charm of the grounds, said McMillan.

Murray has received the Tree City USA award for 12 consecutive years. In 1983, Murray was chosen as the national champion of Arbor Day programs for small communities.

It is one of the few cities to have its own Shade Tree Commission, established in 1960, said McMillan.

The commission is host for programs to promote the planting and caring of trees - making trees available to homebuilders.

"Watering, fertilizing and pruning trees are an important as planting them," said McMillan. "Arbor Day is important because it gives us a chance to recognize the beauty trees provide us."

Educating children about planting and preserving trees is as important as teaching children history, the mayor said. The children who live in Murray should be especially proud of their beautiful, shaded city.

City Forester Dick Klason said it is alarming how many trees are being destroyed in many towns and not being replaced because of budget cuts. Trees are essential to a healthy environment because they improve the quality of air and beautify surroundings.

It is appropriate for city officials and children to unite in recognizing the importance of trees to the future of the city. Trees are part of Murray's past and future. Preserving trees in communities has become a critical environmental issue, Klason said.