Whitehall Community Park will be greener in the years to come, thanks to the effort of about 75 volunteers who required no more than two hours to plant 600 trees at the park April 13.

"It was a wonderful turnout and more people than we anticipated," said Cory Ollie, parks coordinator for the Whitehall Parks and Recreation Department.

The coordinated effort of the volunteers was the first for the newly minted Friends of the Park, said Whitehall Parks and Recreation Director Shannon Sorrell.

The tree planting was staged to improve the quality of Whitehall Community Park and return native species of trees to the park, Sorrell said.

Ten different kinds of trees were planted at the park, including river birch, eastern redbud, flowering dogwood, smooth sumac and bald cypress.

The trees were donated to the city by Green Columbus, an organization that donates trees to cities in central Ohio each year to increase green space, Ollie said.

Whitehall's event was held in celebration of Earth Day, but a little earlier than its April 22 recognition because of its nearness to Easter Sunday the preceding day, Ollie said.

Most of trees were planted on the park's north side, where a large amount of honeysuckle was cut away last year, Sorrell said.

About 500 trees were planted on the park's upper level – 350 along the park's border with the railroad tracks and 150 along a walking path.

About 100 more were planted in the park's lower level.

Volunteers from several businesses and Whitehall City Schools helped out, including employees from Alliance Data and Heartland Bank and members of Whitehall-Yearling High School's baseball team and marching band.

Johnny Dering, head coach of Whitehall-Yearling's varsity baseball team, said he looks for community service opportunities for his players.

"A parent suggested (Friends of the Park) and I asked my players to come and help," Dering said.

Nine players from the team helped place mulch and gravel at Whitehall Community Park, a concurrent activity on the morning of April 13 as other volunteers planted trees.

Sorrell said the city recruited members of the new Friends of the Park group, and about 60 registered for the event through social media.

A collaborative initiative of the parks and recreation department and the city's administration, Friends of the Park is a volunteer organization designed to continue improving the aesthetics and programming of the city's parks, Sorrell said.

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekCorvo