Friends of Balboa Park held a ceremony on Friday to open a new deck and fence around the park's iconic Moreton Bay fig tree, which is located between Spanish Village and the San Diego Natural History Museum
The event, scheduled for Arbor Day -- of course! -- was attended by local luminaries, incuding San Diego mayor Todd Gloria, who broke in the large deck, which can accommodate dozens of socially distanced visitors at a time.
The tree, which has now reached the ripe old age of 106, has been fenced off since the late 1980s in an effort to prevent damage to its root system. Now, for the first time in decades, people can once again get close to the tree, thanks to an elevated deck that has been constructed that was constructed under its canopy in such a way that it still protects the massive tree's root system.
At the beginning of Gloria's remarks, he acknowledged that, as a third-generation San Diego, he had very fond memories of the tree and admitted that he was one of the kids who played on it while growing up who, perhaps, should not have been doing so.
"We didn't know what we were doing something not so good for the tree, right?" Gloria said. "And a number of years ago, forward-looking San Diegans set aside its space … And so as has been the case throughout the history of the park, San Diegans banded together. And it took a while -- all good things do take a while -- but what we have today is this dedication of this observation deck, which will make sure that the integrity of this tree is maintained, that the health of it goes on for many, many years to come, and allows us an opportunity to experience the tree … like no one has in a long time."
The project was organized by the Friends of Balboa Park and cost a half-million dollars, most of it raised from private donors.