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An Arbor Day to remember

You can call them hardy souls -- the dozens of volunteers who woke up early Saturday morning to face the bitter winds, sub-freezing temps and blustery snow all in the name of Arbor Day.

Yes, this was April 25 and this was Minnesota in the "springtime."

Just four days after the Twin Cities saw temperatures soar into the 70s, the mercury dipped to 31 degrees. But the inclement weather didn't stop Weston Ziton, 7, and Calvin Zachman, 12, from pitching in with their shovels and true grit to help the city in its effort to plant more than 300 new trees in Colby Lake and Pioneer parks as a part of Woodbury's annual Arbor celebration.

"We signed up to help, and nothing was gonna stop us," said Weston's dad John Ziton, who took his son and neighbor to Edgewood Park near Colby Lake for the city's annual volunteer tree planting event that originally had 120 people signed up.

"We're actually pretty impressed with the turnout," said city parks specialist Doug Peterson, who organized the event and figured the return to winter-like conditions might put a damper on attendance.

The cold didn't stop Breanna Boe, 9, and Elana Double, 7, from providing moral support to the volunteers. Boe and Double, members of the Woodbury Royal Ambassadors, helped plant trees and also passed out gift bags for volunteers.

Volunteers from other organizations braved the conditions as well, including the local cub scout troops and members of DECA at Globe University in Woodbury.

"We were waiting for that phone call or e-mail to say the event was canceled," said Globe University student Mark Foslien, who belongs to DECA, an organization for students interested in marketing. "But here we are. It's pretty cold though."

In total the volunteers and city workers planted dozens of varieties of trees ranging in species from hackberry to northwood maple and accolade elm, which are all native to the area, Peterson said.

"We wanted to replace some trees that have been damaged or diseased over the years, so the key was finding species that are native to Woodbury and can tolerate summers and winters," Peterson said.

The Arbor Day event also gave the city a chance to call attention to the need for tree preservation, he said.

"It's a fun event, and even with the cold, people enjoy it," Peterson said.