Twenty years ago, people in the Santa Clarita Valley came together to save a heritage oak from being destroyed to make way for new development. The tree was named “Old Glory” by two boys from the Stevenson Ranch neighborhood, a name that stuck and is still being used today.
The tree was in imminent danger of being destroyed, until tree activist and visual artist John Quigley agreed to climb into its limbs. This unusual 71-day urban tree-sit action brought international media attention and saved the tree. It also brought about a negotiation that ultimately resulted in the oak tree being moved to the nearby Pico Canyon Park rather than being cut down.
The tree still resides there today.
Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment, a local environmental activist organization whose members participated in the effort to save Old Glory, is inviting the community to a picnic celebration of the 20th anniversary of the tree-sit that helped save the oak, estimated to be more than 400 years old. The event is scheduled 1 p.m. Saturday at the park, 25600 W. Pico Canyon Road, in Stevenson Ranch.
Thousands of people stopped by the oak during Quigley’s tree-sit. Kids drew pictures and attached them to the fence, people brought food, musicians played and wrote songs about the tree, arborists stopped by to talk about the importance of California oaks and many celebrities also stopped by.
“To celebrate the oak’s survival after 20 years, we want to try to create a little bit of the atmosphere and community that saved her,” SCOPE said in a prepared statement. “There will be music, an art table for kids, a petition for landmark status and many of the original people that participated, including John Quigley, will be there. We are hoping that those that participated 20 years ago will join us for this celebration.”
SCOPE invited residents to bring a picnic lunch and a camp chair for an afternoon of the tales, songs and pictures that saved the tree. Parking is limited, so visitors are encouraged to carpool if possible.