In spite of COVID-19 and more than a year of virtual meetings, the Rotary Club of Wooster, chartered on January 21, 1921, is in the middle of a year-long gala celebration of its centennial anniversary, which will culminate with a banquet on October 7. 
     Throughout the year, club members have enjoyed “digging in” to the past with weekly emails compiled by club historian, Ray Leisy, featuring highlights of the club’s activities and memorable programs during its first 100 years.
     Monthly feature articles, published in the Wooster Daily Record and curated by Past DG/ Past Club President Phil Mariola, chair of the 100th anniversary committee, have focused on many of the club’s local and international projects - digging latrines in Kenya, and digging holes for the more than 2000 American flags which comprise the Wooster Rotary Parade of flags – to name just a few.
     Of course, the celebration also includes several community projects, at least one of which involves- you guessed it – digging into the future. 
     Members of the anniversary committee thought it would be fitting to plant 100 trees in honor of Wooster Rotary’s 100 years, and contacted the city of Wooster for suggestions about where to plant the trees.  The city had another idea: would the club be willing to rescue and transplant some trees that had been overplanted at the Secrest Arboretum on the campus of The Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Science in the aftermath of a 2010 tornado?  The arboretum had offered to give the trees to the city, but moving and replanting the trees, many of which were 20 to 30 feet tall, was going to be costly, and not covered by the city’s budget.
     Recognizing that many of the trees in question had been planted by Rotarians in collaboration with several other service clubs following the devastating tornado, the club was eager to participate in the rescue effort, and quickly agreed to relocate the trees to the city’s Oak Hill Park, a 100 acre work-in-progress, and home to many species of trees, plants, birds and other wildlife, with a 1.7 mile paved trail for walking, jogging and biking, a giant sledding hill and ample space for cross-country skiing.
     The park also includes a large pavilion and a bike repair station, both donated by Wooster Rotary, and now features an impressive “Founder’s Row,” with 24 of the rescued  trees lining a portion of the trail, to honor each of the club’s 24 founding members.  Signage, which will commemorate the 100th anniversary, and will include the names of the 24 founders, is currently under construction, and will complete Phase I of the Oak Hill Park improvement project.
     Phase II of the project is currently under design by a committee of club members led by Past President Ron Holtman.  During this phase, the club will develop a “Memorial Grove,” featuring additional trees and plants designed to provide year-round color, benches and signage honoring the 37 club members with 50 or more years of membership, with space to add the names of members who achieve that goal in the future.
     We hope you will come visit us in Wooster and spend some time in Oak Hill Park.  We think you’ll dig it!