Everett's downtown flower program revived
Doug Ramsay photo
Tom Curd, of Everett, fills a planter with flowers in front of Edward D. Hansen Conference Center at the Angel of the Winds Arena on Hewitt Avenue in Everett last Saturday. Volunteers fought through rain and a mid-morning thunder storm to fill planters along Hewitt and Colby Avenues with the colorful plants.
EVERETT — The Downtown Everett Association (DEA) has adopted the annual Viva Color flower program. On Saturday, May 30, the organization, with the help of many volunteers, planted the colorful flowers in the sidewalk planters along the streets of Everett’s downtown.
“I think a big part of downtown that people (had) gotten used to over the last several decades, even throughout the whole city, have been these annual flowers. A lot of people take pride in those plants and really look forward to seeing them. We thought that going into the summer and not having those planters would just be a shame,” said Liz Stenning, executive director of the Downtown Everett Association. “So we started thinking about if there’s a way to at least have some of these planters in bloom and provide some economic vitality and some life to downtown.”
The effect of COVID-19 has been felt throughout communities, from the top down. Along with other programs, the annual Viva Color flower program was cut by the city.
“It’s unfortunate but due to the unprecedented economic impact of COVID-19 the city’s ongoing structural deficit sacrifices are necessary to protect the city’s ability to deliver the core services, like public safety and infrastructure, that’s kind of what we need to focus on right now,” said Julio Cortes, a city spokesman.
The DEA, along with many Everett residents, purchased flowers from the city via auction. The flowers were planted in two-thirds of the available sidewalk planters by upward of 125 eager volunteers. To ensure the health and safety of all involved, volunteers were asked to arrive at staggered times, as well as wear masks and follow social distancing guidelines.
Volunteers picked up flowers and equipment from separate tables and began planting flowers in the available planters. Some brought wheelbarrows to assist in transportation. The DEA got a license to use city property in order to use the sidewalk planters.
The majority of the volunteers arrived at Wetmore Plaza to receive the flowers and equipment needed to do the planting. Some volunteers had the task of shuttling flowers back and forth from the house of Patrick Hall, President of the DEA, to Wetmore Plaza for distribution.
“Patrick told us he had 2,900 flowers in his backyard since they bought them at the city auction, so I’ve been helping Patrick with maintaining those thousands of flowers,” said Paul Popelka, a DEA board member.
Popelka, who often volunteers much of his time and effort, has been a big help behind the scenes, according to Stenning.
“Part of our efforts were to solicit estimates from contractors to take on watering of these planters for this summer,” Popelka said.
The general maintenance of planters like weeding and deadheading flowers will be left up to the volunteers. Community members interested can register to “adopt a planter” at www.eventbrite.com/e/adopt-a-planter-program-tickets-105903658694.
“We feel that the flowers are a big part of what makes downtown a place where people want to be in the summertime,” Hall said.
Despite the city budget cuts, the annual flower program has managed to live on, with the help of the Downtown Everett Association and the many volunteers who donated their time and effort.
“There’s no way we could have done this without not just the volunteers helping do the maintenance, but the volunteers behind the scenes, that are helping us plan all this. There are several people putting a lot of time and helping and it takes a lot of effort to organize these kinds of things,” Stenning said.
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