NORTHAMPTON, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- A vigil was held Monday in Northampton to honor several trees set to be cut down by the city.
Braving the rain with umbrellas in hand, a group of Northmapton residents gathered Monday morning to hold a vigil to honor seven Japanese Kwanzan cherry trees.
“We're doing a ceremony to ordain the trees as Zen priests,” said Zen Buddhist priest Ruth Ozeki.
The city of Northampton plans to cut down the trees on Warfield Place as part of a repaving effort, but organizers of the ceremony don't understand the need for the project.
"We feel that the paving project is unnecessary and really, it was just ill conceived. It was a rushed project to use up money in a budget,” Ozeki noted.
Ozeki told Western Mass News that they've been fighting to save the trees for months. She said the trees provide shade to the houses on Warfield Place and have a lot of value to the local residents.
"All the beauty that they give us, all the protection that they give us, the shade, the habitat,” Ozeki explained.
We reached out to Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz and he did not wish to comment at this time. The group was able to get 1,400 people to sign a petition asking Narkewicz to pause the project. Since their request was not met, organizers held the Buddhist ceremony to pay tribute to the trees.
“The idea is to ordain the trees and by doing that, honoring their lives, and all that they do for us,” Ozeki said.