Huntington in Bloom ready to begin cleaning
HUNTINGTON -- Huntington in Bloom will take a year off from the national America in Bloom contest, but still plans to carry on as if it were competing this year.
The nonprofit group will have a trash pickup Saturday, April 12, beginning at 9 a.m. A similar effort took place last year before a national panel of judges arrived in the summer to rate the city for the contest that awards communities and cities prizes for making efforts to improve their quality of life through beautification projects.
"The judges provided a number of suggestions they would like to see implemented," said Huntington in Bloom co-chair Lisa Riley during a meeting Monday with The Herald-Dispatch Editorial Board. "We decided to take a year to work on those things rather than spending the limited resources we have on entering the contest again.
"We want to put some things together for 2015 that will really turn their heads."
Some of those suggestions included tending to the trees along Veterans Memorial Boulevard, making better use of flower boxes on multi-story structures, concentrating on some of the less affluent areas of town and getting more uniform participation from city businesses, according to the judges' evaluation report.
The national contest has taken place since 2001, and 2013 was the first time Huntington had entered.
The Jewel City finished second in the 30,000-to-50,000 population category to Holland, Mich., and received a "four out of five blooms" rating from the judges.
For Huntington in Bloom, there was no shame in the showing.
"We were bested by a tourist destination with a $1 million budget just for flowers," Riley said. "We are volunteer and donation based."
Riley and co-chair Tom Bell said the focus this year isn't so much on preparing things for a panel of judges, but hitting certain benchmarks to coincide with events throughout the city.
Bell said one of those is Marshall University's commencement ceremony, which takes place Saturday, May 10.
A second city cleanup, which will include student volunteers from Marshall, is scheduled for May 3.
Huntington in Bloom also will continue to sponsor local competitions, as it did last year, for the best street, yard and public spaces, among others.
Winners will receive small monetary prizes and considerable bragging rights, Riley said.
The group is also farming out some of its large flower pots that decorated the city last year to local gardening clubs, which will be competing among themselves for the best results.
This year's official color scheme will be red, purple and yellow.
"We think that's very vibrant, dynamic and bright," Riley said. "Huntington has a lot of foot traffic, but just for the person who is driving by, we think big and bright is best."
The organization also will do the city's fall and Christmas decorations for the second consecutive year, and will make a strong effort to keep the public informed of its efforts, Bell said.
He said he realized Huntington in Bloom was gaining traction last year when he was being "chewed out" by a local florist for not doing a better job of publicizing the 2013 color scheme.
"I had to laugh, because I realized that what we were doing was generating a demand for local businesses," Bell said. "Eventually he stopped chewing on us and he joined us."
Last year's initiative drew 170 volunteers.
This year, Huntington in Bloom has some volunteer groups already in place in the various neighborhood associations and organizations such as the Coalition for the Homeless and the Healing Place.
However, the group is still seeking volunteers, and those who want to help out Saturday are asked to be at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena at 10 a.m.
The trash pickup will be in partnership with the statewide "Make it Shine" initiative, and also will be conducted in concert with a volunteer effort from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. to clean up the Four Pole Creek area.
Follow reporter Ben Fields on Twitter @BenFieldsHD.
Huntington in Bloom at a glance
Clean up dates for Huntington in Bloom
Saturday, April 12, at 10 a.m. Volunteers not associated with a specific volunteer group are asked to meet at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena at 10.
Saturday, April 12, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Four Pole Creek clean up. Volunteers to meet at St. Cloud Commons. Participants must be at least 12 years old, and are asked to wear rain boots. Gloves, pick-up tools and trash bags provided.
Saturday, May 3, at 10 a.m.
Planting dates (weather permitting)
Thursday, May 6.
Wednesday, May 12.
For more information, contact Donna Rumbaugh at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Best Bloomin' Tree -- Photos will be accepted between April 28 and May 14, winner announced May 16.
Best Bloomin' Street -- Photos will be accepted between May 19 and June 4, winner announced June 6.
Places of Worship in Bloom -- Photos will be accepted between June 9 and June 25, winner announced June 27.
Best Bloomin' Yard -- Photos will be accepted between June 30 and July 16, winner announced July 18.
Best Bloomin' Business -- Photos will be accepted between July 21 and Aug. 6, winner announced Aug. 8.
Best Bloomin' Public Space -- Photos will be accepted between Aug. 11 and Aug. 27, winner announced Aug. 29.
Huntington in Bloom is a fund of the Foundation of the Tri-State Community, a 501(c)(3) organization. Donations may be made to the Foundation for the Tri-State Community, Box 2096, Ashland, KY, 41105-2096. Please put "Huntington in Bloom" in the memo line of your check.
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