Annual Cherry Blossom Memorial Park ceremony held

True to tradition, the Mingo Business Association invited fourth-graders from Hills Elementary School to participate in the seventh-annual Cherry Blossom Memorial Park Ceremony, which was held May 1 at the park.

In addition to hearing a brief history about the park, pupils this year were invited to write an essay about what the park means to them.

There were four winning essays selected out of 61 submitted. The winners were Olivia Wukelic, Emily Kopras, Kyle Laughery and Garett Rawson.

More than 60 children, their parents and grandparents were part of “a huge crowd to help celebrate the history of Mingo High School and the teachers and other staff members who had an impact on the lives of students who attended the school,” explained Jim Freiling of the Mingo Business Association.

The business association started the project in 2007 when 27 cherry trees were planted at the park, which is located at the bottom of St. Clair Street. There were 43 teachers and staff inducted in 2008.

The business association wanted to recognize teachers and staff of Mingo High School and Harmony, Hills, St. Agnes and Mingo Central schools. Mingo High School served the village for a century beginning in 1893.

At the ceremony, students are told about the significance of the trees, the memorial wall, the three flags, the fence and pavers.

They also are instructed on how to care for the trees and participate in providing the needed maintenance for that year. The children also participate in the installation of new flags, which are obtained from local congressmen and senators’ offices, and pavers.

Kathy Freiling of the business association contacted the offices of Ohio Gov. John Kasich, U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Marietta, and state Sen. Lou Gentile, D-Steubenville, about how the children through their learn-and-serve program have been instrumental in making the park possible.

Kasich and Gentile provided certificates of accomplishment that were read at the ceremony by Adam Peeler, master of ceremonies who invited the pupils to read their essays.

Sarah Poulton of Johnson’s office was the keynote speaker. She told the story of the cherry blossom trees being brought to America in 1910 as a gift of friendship from Japan. She also presented proclamations in addition to a flag Johnson had had flown over the capitol building.