Downtown Bristol Blooms
Spring is in full bloom and so are downtown Bristol streets thanks to a floral project meant to beautify and draw visitors to the area.
The historic lamp posts along Hope, State and Bradford streets are now adorned with hanging baskets of red, white and blue flowers, just in time for the 4th of July celebration and summer season in Bristol. About 140 baskets hang from brackets attached to the posts, a project engineered by Bristol Blooms, a volunteer initiative to beautify downtown Bristol with the patriotic begonias, petunias and lobelia.
"It's to beautify the neighborhood and draw attention to the downtown," said Jackie Cranwell, co-founder of the 18-month-old organization. "People like to come in and see pretty things."
Ms. Cranwell and co-founder Susan O'Donnell began the project last year, starting with a small display of eight baskets at Hope and State streets. Several fundraising campaigns later, the group raised enough to buy brackets, flowers, soil and all the related ingredients to hang 140 baskets this year. The group is hoping to approach 200 baskets next year.
The beautification project comes at a cost — about $30,000 for the hangers, brackets, baskets and plantings, all of which Bristol Blooms raised through fundraisers and donations from residents and businesses.
The expense could have been much higher if not for the "total community effort" to bring the project to fruition, Ms. Cranwell said. The Maher Garden Center in Middletown and the Groden Center in Providence did the plantings, and the town Department of Public Works hung the brackets on the lamp posts. Maintenance costs could have been high as well. Watering 140 baskets each day is a big undertaking currently being handled by Stan Dimock and his team of volunteers, and town interns will handle the watering during the summer. Bristol Blooms is seeking volunteers for the early morning chore beyond August.
"It's been a whole community effort," said Town Administrator Antonio Teixeira. "We're very appreciative. This is a great endeavor that beautifies the downtown area."
In addition to watering volunteers, Bristol Blooms is continually raising money to keep the project going year after year. The group has scheduled a Garden Party Bloomraiser Thursday, June 12, 5-8 p.m. at Blithewold Mansion, 101 Ferry Road. The party will include catered food, live music and a live auction featuring such items as a Bristol Harbor boat tour donated by Councilman Halsey Herreshoff, and dinner with professional golfer Billy Andrade at Roberto's on Hope Street. Tickets cost $25 and are available at Paper, Packaging & Panache on Hope Street or at the door next Thursday.
Residents are invited to "adopt a lantern," and individual donations can also be made to Bristol Blooms. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the organization's Facebook page for more information.