Downtown Beautification Project
Bobbi McCracken (right) and Bette Worth work hard on the Downtown Flower Project. When not watering and weeding flower pots, they are writing grants, soliciting sponsorships and brainstorming ideas for the future.
Bette Worth and Bobbi McCracken are the founders and directors of the Bloom Team. These amazing women are dedicated members of the Aberdeen Beautification Committee. They have partnered with the Aberdeen Parks Department to make the downtown Flower Project a reality.
After deciding that flower pots and hanging baskets would greatly improve the face of downtown Aberdeen, Worth and McCracken began researching and fundraising for the project. They contacted neighbors in Shelton, who had a similar project in the works to get ideas and inspiration. They also reached out the City of Aberdeen, who agreed to help fund the project.
After raising an impressive $18,000, the Bloom Team purchased 90 flower pots and thousands of plants from Wynoochee Windmill Farms. “Through the Comcast Cares Day in April, over 200 community members and Comcast employees gathered to plant the aggregate pots and clean up the streets of the downtown corridor,” Worth said.
Beauty in the Making
Almost overnight, downtown Aberdeen began looking beautiful. Residents, tourists, and community members were suddenly greeted by flowers in almost every color brightening the downtown area. Worth and McCracken realized they would not be able to maintain all the flower pots themselves, “so we called our friends,” Worth smiled.
From June through September, 12 to 14 women gathered to care for the flower pots twice a month. They weed, fertilize, dead-head and pick up trash along the streets. “Not only is this a fun social time, it also gives volunteers a sense of pride and giving back to the community,” Worth said. Volunteers split into groups, each taking certain streets.
“A lot of people will honk or give us the thumbs up as they are driving by,” Worth said. Some people have even walked up to members of the Bloom Team and expressed appreciation for their hard work.
Working Together to Make a Difference
Numerous community members have given generous donations, allowing the Bloom Team to enhance their Flower Project. A remarkable donation allowed the City of Aberdeen to purchase a John Deere Gator, used to water the plants. A second donation made the purchase of a pressure washer possible. This helps keeps the streets clean and sanitary. Businesses and individuals have sponsored a flower basket for $200, which is the estimated cost to maintain a single basket throughout the season. Donations have come in large and small amounts, with one of their most special contributions being $10 from a little boy who felt strongly about supporting the project. “We are very grateful for this year’s sponsors, including the Aberdeen Rotary, Aberdeen Lions Club and ARM who helped jumpstart the 2015 campaign,” Worth noted.
While the Bloom Team works hard to maintain the flower pots, the City of Aberdeen makes sure the hanging baskets are watered and cared for. Stacie Barnum, Assistant Parks Director with the Aberdeen Parks Department has been a tremendous resource for the Bloom Team, helping write grants and coordinating when city employees will be out watering and fertilizing the flowers. The Bloom Team also works with the city to coordinate times to hang seasonal banners along the streets. “We have banners for spring, summer, fall and winter,” McCracken said.
Strong winds and large log trucks sweeping through the streets are two factors that make maintaining the flower pots difficult. “The wind can be very destructive and not all the flowers hold up well,” Worth explains. In the future, Worth and McCracken will be working with Wynoochee Windmill Farms to select more durable flowers.
The Bloom Team meets on the second and fourth Tuesdays each month from June to September to maintain flower pots and clean up Aberdeen’s streets. Photo credit: Jeff Cook.
Before beginning the project, Worth and McCracken spoke with the downtown businesses about the idea of flower pots. Unanimously, business owners cited vandalism as a key concern and past problem. However, the Bloom Team is excited that this has not been an issue for them so far. “Maybe it’s because the pots are so beautiful, people passing by appreciate them,” Worth suggested.
Plans for the Future
While the flower season officially ended in September, Worth and McCracken plan to keep the flower pots looking beautiful year round and are currently brainstorming what kind of winter plants to utilize in the pots. The care and maintenance of these winter flowers will rest solely on the shoulders of the Bloom Team, as the Parks Department will not have their extra summer hands available to help.
Worth and McCracken also have plans to raise more money and solicit additional sponsors for the coming season. With the goal of raising $25,000 in 2016, they hope to increase the number of flower pots to a total of 150 throughout the city. They also plan to expand to other streets, particularly to the businesses near the entrance of Aberdeen just past the bluff.
If you are interested in getting involved with the downtown Flower Project, there are several ways you can help. Community members are welcome to join the Bloom Team in helping weed and maintain the flower pots. Donations in any amount are always appreciated. If interested in contributing either way, contact Bobbi McCracken or Bette Worth.
Donations for the 2016-2017:
Travis Hoppe; John and Gail Quigg; Dave and Kim Edwards; Kay Frojen; Steve and Pam Earnest; Jim and Pat Stamateou; Ed and Nancy Liedtke; Keith and Lynn Kessler; Windemere/Aberdeen ,John Forrester; Coast Title; Harbor Physical Therapy; Karen Callaghan; First Harbor Real Estate; Mazatlan Restaurant; Rognlin’s’ Pete Shave, in memory of Herman Shave; Steve Reznicek, Dennis Company; Dennis and Donna Morrisette – in memory of Bea Morrisette; Joe and Carole Malik – in memory of Frank Garner; Ed and Joan Brewster; Aiken and Sanders; Truman and Ella Seely; Tom and Nancy LaCasse; Steve and Susan Solan; Renee Schrader, Eric and Mary Nelson, Timberland Bank, Gretchen Brennan, Mary V. Keinath, Kathi Hoder – in memory of Jerry Mills, Bob and Margo Shortt, Grays Harbor Vision Clinic, Doug Schermer, Anchor Savings, John Karnas Company, Harbor City Church, Jack and Trish Thompson, John and Trish Martinson; Aberdeen Eagles; Greg and Anne Marie May; Bryan and Son; Hanner Enterprises; Great Northwest Credit Union; Tom and Linda Isaacson; David and Joyce Melville; Aberdeen Lions, Dick and Judy Isaacson; Studio II