HomeCherry Hill NewsLETTER: The history and future of Chapel Avenue’s cherry trees

LETTER: The history and future of Chapel Avenue’s cherry trees

Forty years ago a small group of Cherry Hill residents came together to address negative news articles being written about Cherry Hill. Our township was being criticized by the News Media when several high profile crimes were committed in Cherry Hill in a short period of time. We were upset about the negative editorials and false accusations of the people of Cherry Hill. Our group agreed that positive community-wide activities would be needed to reverse the negatively surrounding Cherry Hill. These activities will showcase all that is good and meaningful in the Township of Cherry Hill. This was the action our group of concerned residents decided to take.

One of our problems was the geography of Cherry Hill! The highways of the State of New Jersey, Camden County and Cherry Hill were keeping residents isolated from one another. The townspeople lived in defined sections of Cherry Hill because of the criss crossing of major highways! Each divided section basically kept to themselves as there was no “Main Street” where residents could congregate and socialize with one another! It was very difficult to interact with one another! Nothing was being done to bring community awareness and community pride to Cherry Hill!

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The News Media conceived the people of Cherry Hill to be educated, financially secure, transient families who came and left Cherry Hill pursuing professional careers. It was believed that these transient families had no reason to develop family roots in the Township of Cherry Hill! We were just a town of convenience for temporary community residents! These were the reasons, we believed, that the News Media and others perceived the community of Cherry Hill to be a plastic-like society of uncaring people.

Our group was determine to reverse this negative, false perception of the townspeople and community of Cherry Hill.

We decided to create something that would be “special” and “long lasting” A “unique” activity that would overcome the negativity surrounding Cherry Hill! One that would transcend over the highways of Cherry Hill and one that will bring us all together to celebrate our township. We came up with an idealistic idea we believed would accomplish our quest! We would encourage cherry tree plantings throughout the township and we will create a two-mile avenue of blossoming cherry trees to gather under to celebrate the Township of Cherry Hill!

Our thoughts were that — — the arrival of millions of cherry blossoms, throughout the township, will call on our diverse community to come together to celebrate the fine attributes of our township every year! This would be the “special” and “long lasting” event we were looking for. Our diverse community will unify proudly under a two-mile avenue of cherry blossoms! Surely this dismiss the negative perception of the community of Cherry Hill! It will was decided by us that this would be our idealistic quest for Cherry Hill.

We knew that creating a two-mile avenue of blossoming cherry trees would be a challenge! We had to convince the political leaders and residents that there was a need for removing all the existing shade trees from Chapel Avenue — — from Haddonfield Road to Kings Highway — — and replacing them with cherry trees. We also had to find the means for financing this challenging quest for Cherry Hill. It was to become a long and difficult undertaking.

Initially there was resistance from the community and political leaders of Cherry Hill when we announced our idealistic plans for Cherry Hill. The township did not want to remove the shade trees from a two-mile section of Chapel Avenue! In addition no one believed that it would ever be possible to convert a two-mile section of Chapel Avenue to all cherry trees!

Our group needed the full support from the political leaders and community identities if we were ever to achieve our goal. Eventually this support came when we received permission from the home owners to remove their shade trees on Chapel Avenue. We promised them that we would replace them with cherry trees. The signed “approval to remove” petition was given to the leaders of the township! They reviewed it and reluctantly agreed to give us permission to remove these shade trees to see if there would be any public outcry! There was none — — no one complained — — this was the first positive reaction to our idealistic quest. It was then that the community leaders, the Public and News Media started to give us their support for this idealistic quest for Cherry Hill. When the first cherry tree was planted and the first Cherry Blossom Parade marched on Chapel Avenue our group was energized and we committed ourselves to complete our cherry blossom quest for Cherry Hill — — no matter how long it may take!

The first cherry tree was planted on Chapel Avenue and the first Cherry Blossom Parade was presented to the townspeople of Cherry Hill in 1973. Since then a total of 1427 cherry trees were planted and over one hundred shade trees were removed! Through the years we received the needed support from community leaders of Cherry Hill, the News media and the Freeholders of Camden County. Their continuing support made it possible to stage positive events for the community and advance the progress of Chapel Avenue’s cherry tree lined avenue to what it looks like today.

Forty(40) years of cherry tree plantings and shade tree removals on Chapel Avenue have now gone by! Cherry Hill’s Firefighters have planted cherry trees on Chapel Avenue every year since 1973! They have kept the hope of realizing a two-mile avenue of cherry trees alive for the community of Cherry Hill even when the Cherry Blossom Parade ended in 1993. It has taken years to transform Chapel Avenue into today’s impressive avenue of blossoming cherry trees. Only sixteen(16) remaining shade trees are still standing among the continuous rows of hundreds of cherry trees that stretch from Haddonfield Road to Kings Highway.

This year we want to complete our “seemingly” impossible cherry blossom quest for Cherry Hill. We would like to have the only remaining sixteen(16) remaining shade trees removed from Chapel Avenue and complete the cherry tree plantings. Chapel Avenue will finally have its continuous rows of cherry trees to honor Cherry Hill and Camden County! Its successful completion will be the highlight of the 40th Anniversary celebration! It will be our group’s last “Celebration of Cherry Hill” event for the townspeople of Cherry Hill. It is time for others to come forward to pursue the ideals of why this two-mile avenue of blossoming cherry trees was created for. Community leaders must find a way to perpetuate Chapel Avenue’s two-mile avenue of blossoming cherry trees for future generations to gather under and enjoy!

We are seeking support from the identities of Cherry Hill and Camden County to participate in this idealistic project! The arrival of the 40th Anniversary of the first cherry tree planting and Cherry Blossom Parade in Cherry Hill is the perfect time to complete this idealistic quest!

Chapel Avenue’s completed cherry tree lined avenue will serve the full community! It will be a welcomed Spring attraction for our area! It will draw travelers, local and distant, who may want to see the display of a two-mile avenue of cherry blossoms! Chapel Avenue’s blossoming cherry trees must be embraced and perpetuated by the residents and political leaders of Camden County and Cherry Hill! This will be the only way for it can be perpetuated for future generations to enjoy. It will be a positive reflection of the people of Camden County and Cherry Hill Township.

We have contacted Cherry Hill’s political leaders and the Freeholders of Camden County to make possible the removal of the sixteen(16) remaining shade trees from Chapel Avenue. These political leaders are presently reviewing our request and have indicated that they will respond to us in the near future. It is important that these two identities come together to insure the completion of Chapel Avenue’s cherry tree lined avenue.

It is also important that the News Media continue to support this quest — as your media is the only way to communicate with all of the residents of Camden County and Cherry Hill! There is a real need for soliciting help from everyone who cares to be a part of this positive effort for Cherry Hill.

Community contributions are needed to help pay for the cost of shade tree removals and the twenty(22) cherry trees that will be replacing them. This project definitely needs help from the townspeople, schools, businessmen, organizations and religious groups of our community.

We would like to ask local tree removal contractors volunteer to remove one of the sixteen(16) remaining shade trees for “FREE” as a gesture of their support for the completion of this project. We will add the names of all supporters on our cherry blossom website. This will definitely help us to complete our idealistic quest for Cherry Hill.

Cherry Hill Fire Department’s Firefighters and the American Legion Post 372 War Veterans have been the biggest supporters over the years! They must be joined by others to perpetuate the existence of a two-mile cherry tree avenue! Cherry tree plantings must be encouraged throughout the township!

Completing this idealistic quest of 40 years is definitely the right thing to do by the people of Camden County and Cherry Hill. This challenge must be met by us! I am pleading for your help! Please do not let apathy destroy what was accomplished over the years pursuing this idealistic quest for Cherry Hill.

Joe Zanghi


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