McALLEN – What began as a bike ride at Lark Community Center organized by the city's urban foresters has now become an annual Arbor Day Celebration.

“We saw how people were receptive to the event and it has just evolved to where now we have at Municipal Park,” Program Coordinator for Keep McAllen Beautiful (KMB) Chris Lash said.

Last year the Arbor Day Celebration had 800 race participants and 1000 attendees at the park.

Now in their sixth year the event will feature a 10k, 5k, 25-mile bike tour and a family walk.

Those competing in the 10k with a finish time under 40 minutes will have the opportunity to do the bike ride.

At the event there will also be live music, kid's activities, a photo booth and vendors. Those that complete the races will receive a medal and t-shirt.

The biggest feature of the event is the giving of trees to the participants.

The urban forester will be on hand to guide people to the proper care and maintenance of trees.

“We also plant trees along the hike and bike trial,” Lash said. “People can actually learn how to plant a tree.”

Lash said a lot of times people just plant trees without taking the future into consideration. Sometimes people can plant a tree and 10 years later it grows into a power line.

The trees that will be handed out will be native to the region like Anacua, Encinos and Wild Olive. This year Keep McAllen Beautiful plans to give away almost 900 trees.

“We also have some nurseries that will be giving us trees to raffle,” Lash said.

The raffle will be free to the participants.

Traditionally Arbor Day is celebrated in April but because the temperature is warm KMB will have their event March 4 at the McAllen Municipal Park located 1921 N. Bicentennial Blvd.

“It's good for the tree to be established before it gets hot,” Lash said.

To sign up for the races visit www.keepmcallenbeautiful.com or Valley Running Co. 1701 W. Dove Ste. 1. Register before Feb. 5 and receive a $5 discount to the races.

For more information about the event call (956) 681-4562.