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Young and old to 'stop, drop and roll' for Arboretum Project

Date: 4/21/2009

By Katelyn Gendron

Reminder Assistant Editor

WESTFIELD -- Stop, drop and roll! No, this isn't a fire drill; it's the 10th annual Tree Huggers' Cartwheel-a-thon to benefit the Downtown Arboretum Project.

All those age three and up are encouraged to come out to the event at Stanley Park on April 25 to join Joe Wynn, city councilor and champion of the Red Division -- ages 22 to 35 -- to see who can turn out the most cartwheels for the cause. The event, hosted by the Downtown Arboretum Project of the Westfield Community Development Corporation, raises money each year to buy and plant trees throughout the city.

"It's a good cause. I am looking forward to doing it again and winning my division and even breaking my record," Wynn said. "A lot of good has come from [the Downtown Arboretum Project]. With the money they've raised, they've been able to plant some trees for everyone to enjoy."

Cynthia Hartdegen, project director for the Downtown Arboretum Project, noted that approximately $2,000 is raised each year at the Cartwheel-a-thon and 164 trees have been planted to date.

"One of the reasons for the Cartwheel-a-thon is [to teach people of all ages] that a tree is a living thing and not a piece of playground equipment," she explained. "It took a lot of effort to get them there and they don't come back very fast."

Hartdegen said she hopes for a crowd this year that can beat last year's 2,600 completed cartwheels.

She added that participation is not limited to cartwheels, however. "Any kind of rotations, we'll accept," Hartdegen said.

"I have gone in the past many times and even done a couple cartwheels," State Rep. Donald Humason Jr. said. "Like I always say, anything for Westfield -- anything for my people -- including throwing myself on the ground. It's like the Penguin Plunge, it's a good cause so I'm there."

Hartdegen noted that prizes for the most completed rotations will be awarded in seven age categories. The first 60 registrants will receive a free T-shirt from the Pioneer Valley Energy Center and Westfield Gas and Electric, she added.

The Cartwheel-a-thon will take place rain or shine at 1:30 p.m. at Stanley Park, 400 Western Ave., adjacent to the tennis courts; in the event of rain, the Cartwheel-a-thon will take place in the Woodward Center.

Registration begins at 1 p.m. Those wishing to participate must bring their own cartwheel counter along with a completed release form.

For additional information about the Cartwheel-a-thon or to obtain a release form, visit or e-mail