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Winslow sees a flowery infusion

Volunteers Ron Williamson and George Moser joined about a dozen other people Monday afternoon to hand over 60 flower baskets along Winslow Way. - Brad Camp/Staff Photo
Volunteers Ron Williamson and George Moser joined about a dozen other people Monday afternoon to hand over 60 flower baskets along Winslow Way.
— image credit: Brad Camp/Staff Photo

t Volunteers bring hanging flower baskets back to downtown.

A letter planted the seed.

Full bloom arrived several weeks later, on Monday, in the form of two truck-beds overflowing with flowers.

“I was just kind of venting,” said Linda Coble, whose letter to the editor set off a chain of charity and volunteerism that this week resulted in the return of flower baskets to Winslow. “I really had no idea it would come to this.”

Facing financial troubles and looking to cut spending, city leaders made the decision this year to forgo hanging flower baskets downtown. The move was expected to save about $5,000, plus a significant amount of city man hours.

Still, Coble and others couldn’t help but lament the loss of the baskets, which have been a downtown fixture for years.

She detailed her views on the subject in a May letter to the Review. That letter was read by Rotarian Patti Shannon, who shared Coble’s disappointment and brought up the issue at a recent Rotary Club board meeting.

The club agreed to donate $3,000 to the cause. Shannon’s husband, Bob, then took up coordinating the effort, since Patti was busy planning the Rotary Auction. Along the way others – most prominently Coble and senior center board president Tom Kilbane – joined the cause.

Money wasn’t the only obstacle facing the group. Someone still had to water the flowers each morning, and even if enough and volunteers could be rounded up to complete the task, they wouldn’t be able to use city trucks and equipment due to liability issues.

Help soon came from several local groups, including the Senior Center, Downtown Association and Chamber of Commerce, Bob Shannon said.

It also came in the form of several unexpected donations.

Merchants in Kingston, which is already festooned with its own summer flower baskets, donated an old water tank.

A pump problem was remedied by the gift of a bilge pump from a local marina. Then Kilbane bought a pickup truck from the Rotary Auction to be used as the new unofficial flowermobile. The water tank is now being wired to the truck’s voltage system, with help from a NASA scientist, Coble said.

There were a few worries about whether it was too late in the season to get the right kind of plants.

Fortunately a Kingston nursery – the same one the city has gone to before – scared up enough flowers, which were then planted in the same baskets the city has long hung along the street.

City officials helped the group work through some liability and logistical issues, organizers said.

On Monday afternoon, about a dozen volunteers dispersed from the senior center to the streets of downtown. They edged their ladders down Winslow Way until 61 baskets were hanging in their customary spots.

The baskets will stay up for about 90 days. Those interested in helping with watering duties – crews of two will work one morning every two weeks – should contact the senior center at 842-1616.

Coble, the Shannons, Kilbane and several others are already looking ahead to next year and beyond, to ensure that each summer Winslow receives a flowery infusion.

“We’re really thrilled to be able to do this,” Bob Shannon said. “It probably seems like a small thing to some people, but it’s one of those things, especially for people coming off the ferry, where those flowers just jump out at you.”

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