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People's Tree Wows Community

POSTED November 10, 2011 11:53 a.m.

The People's Tree made its pitstop in Oakdale Tuesday, Nov. 8 as part of its journey to the US Capitol in Washington amid a fanfare fit for a king, much less a 65-feet tree.

The tree, cut down in the Stanislaus National Forest, and blessed by a tribal elder of the Tuolumne Band of Me-wuk Native American tribe, arrived in Oakdale to flags waving, a motorcycle and vintage car escort, and all kinds of revelry to commemorate the historic occasion.

The main volunteer coordinator, Ramona Howard, was a veritable whirling dervish as she worked behind the scenes to make this event happen, from cleaning Wood Park two weekends prior — removing 40 bags worth of trash from the park — to coordinating the volunteer groups and vendors so that the community event was something to remember.

Oakdale Mayor Pat Paul was on scene and smiling as citizens started to arrive, eager to be a part of the event.

"This is quite an honor for Oakdale," Paul noted. "And a special thank you must go to all the volunteers, especially Ramona Howard, for all their hard work to make it happen."

All local vendors pitched portable tents to make it a fun, community-driven event, while local homing pigeon enthusiasts such as the Mid Valley Combine brought their racing pigeons to release in honor of the big day.

The tree arrived via a semi truck with a specially designed protective case that allowed people to peek inside the truck to see the majestic tree. Community members were also encouraged to sign the giant banner that will accompany the tree on its journey to the Capitol.

Councilmember Jason Howard said, "It's a great turn-out and it's bringing the community together. Anything that provides a community focus is good."

Coordinator Ramona Howard said of the event, "This is a unique event and part of history for Oakdale. I doubt the tree will come here again in my lifetime. Everyone was happy to be a part of it, which is just awesome."

The tree will arrive at the Capitol in Washington D.C on Nov. 28 after a 4,500-mile, 20-day tour that includes 12 city stops from Sacramento to Los Angeles.

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