Cherry trees with special meaning in Cherry Hill
CHERRY HILL, N.J. - April 12, 2012 (WPVI) -- Cherry trees are in full bloom, and in one South Jersey community, a long row of these trees have special meaning.
"The first tree was planted on Saint Patty's Day," said Joe Zanghi of Cherry Hill, N.J.
That was back in 1973. 39 years later, travel down Chapel Avenue in Cherry Hill and you'll see bright pink cherry blossoms lining most of a two-mile stretch.
Zanghi says just a few more gaps need to be filled in, hopefully by next spring for the 40th anniversary of the start of the project.
"We're going to celebrate with a big parade and head down Chapel Avenue one more time," he said.
Back in the 1970s, Zanghi was among a small group of concerned residents whose goal was to bring a positive spirit back to the community. The idea of neighbors coming together to plant cherry trees was born. Zanghi has propelled the effort ever since.
"We said we were going to do something about changing the image of Cherry Hill," he told Action News. "In the beginning we had volunteers come from all over the community. Even nuns showed up to help us plant the cherry trees."
The first tree was planted in front of Kennedy Hospital. Over the last four decades, block by block, shade trees were replaced with cherry trees. Now more than 1400 are planted on Chapel Avenue from Haddonfield Road to Kings Highway. Residents say it's a treat to pass by them each spring time.
"I love it. My kids love it. They love the pink," one woman told us.
"It's great scenery. Sometimes we come by and say, 'Ah, let's take picture in front of the cherry blossoms,'" said Rachel Lopez.
Zanghi says 17 more shade trees need to be removed, and 23 cherry trees added in their place to complete the project.
Cherry Hill firefighters plant the trees each year. Eleven new ones went in last weekend. Yellow ribbons and flags are contributed by American Legion Post 372. The avenue is now a tribute to all the victims of 9-11. Donations are heavily relied upon.
"This year they're $100 each. When we started they were $25 each," said Zanghi.
new jersey, cherry hill, camden county, local/state, katherine scott
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