Editor’s note: Contributing columnist, Steve Nicklas, expresses his views and insights on various topics of local interest.
Look closely, or simply sniff, and you will uncover a pretty bloom atop downtown Fernandina Beach.
Tucked away amid the towering oak trees, the historic-design lamp posts, and red brick crosswalks, there are flowers — of all kinds. And not just those customarily planted by city workers in established beds.
These are flower baskets hung from the lamps or perched on free-standing posts, as well as new flowers along street level. They are being placed by the nurturing hands of enthusiastic volunteers and donors.
“Flowering Fernandina” is a blossoming grassroots effort to instill beauty through bountiful flowers in the historic downtown area. It has been embraced by city officials, business owners, and individuals alike.
Donors can be recognized by a plaque with their name on it. It’s an ideal opportunity for downtown businesses to be showcased for making an altruistic effort and complimenting downtown’s appeal.
The initiative is spearheaded by Eileen Moore, owner of Eileen’s Art & Antiques. Moore already has a blooming basket hanging in front of her store at 702 Centre Street, as do some other businesses. The goal is to have all the baskets and flowers installed by Thanksgiving.
Many local business owners have already embraced the concept. Here are some of their comments as printed in the “Flowering Fernandina” pamphlet:
— Don Shaw, owner, Books Plus: “I think it’s a real welcome sign. It’s cheerful and inviting — it shows we care.”
— George Sheffield, owner, Palace Saloon: “Eileen Moore has again enhanced our community by organizing a group of volunteers to provide hanging baskets for our historic district. Many of the baskets are already in place, adding to the charm of our downtown area.”
— Melba Whitaker, owner, Robison’s Jewelry: “Downtown Fernandina has been the island’s hometown since 1850. We are so blessed that this jewel has been so lovingly preserved and enhanced.”
— Bobby Ferreira, owner, Century 21/John T. Ferreira & Son, Inc.: “I applaud the efforts to beautify Centre Street with the ‘Flowering Fernandina’ program. It adds the finishing touch to the ambience of Centre Street.”
MEMORIAL BENCH PROGRAM
Also part of the effort is a memorial bench program. Here, donors can sponsor a bench in memory of a loved one. The site locations (downtown pocket parks, Centre Street, Atlantic Street overlooking Egan’s Creek, waterfront park, Egan’s Creek Greenway, and others) will dictate the type of bench that can be erected. (Call Cheryl at 904-277-7505 if interested; prices range from $500 to $900 per bench.)
As for the “Flowering Fernandina” specifics, you can plant a designated flower bed yourself at no charge, where you provide the plants and labor; you can plant a basket yourself on a free-standing column two to three times a year for $125; you can plant a basket yourself hung from a lamp post two to three times a year for $125; or you can simply sponsor a basket on a lamp or on a free-standing post for $250 (and volunteers plant this one for you).
There is a web site with information: http://www.facebook.com/pages/floweringfernandina, or you can e-mail the coordinators at [email protected]
Either way, it will help everyone to get involved. Fall is in the air. And it’s time for the flowers to bloom in downtown Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island, Florida.
(Steve Nicklas is a financial advisor who lives on Amelia Island. He can be reached at 904-753-0236 or at [email protected])