Commentary: Kiwanis and donors, not taxes, have city in bloomSomeone once said that success has a thousand fathers, failure is an orphan.
By: Rich Lyon, Red Wing, The Republican Eagle
Someone once said that success has a thousand fathers, failure is an orphan.
It appears that just the reverse is true with the Flower Basket Program in Red Wing.
Recently, I was reading the online version of the Republican Eagle regarding ways to cut city expenses and a comment by a reader was made that flower baskets were just “busy work” for city summer employees.
The survey published in The Current suggested that cutting back on flower basket maintenance was another way to cut expenses.
A letter to the Red Wing Area Chamber of Commerce from a local business wondered when their “bill” for flower baskets would be coming.
After doing a little research on my own, it became obvious to me that very few citizens know the background of the Flower Basket Program.
Almost 20 years ago, Mr. Phil Revoir, local photographer and Noontime Kiwanis member, returned from a trip to Canada where he brought back the flower basket concept and persuaded the Noontime Kiwanis Club and the city of Red Wing to sponsor the project.
It began with a dozen baskets around Riverside Park and over the years expanded, street by street, until it includes 320 baskets today.
Without the enthusiastic support of Hallstrom’s and Sargent’s to supply the baskets, and the city for designing and installing the hanging and watering apparatus, these beautiful baskets would not have been possible.
I will not even mention the kudos and awards our flower baskets have won. If you see Phil, give him a pat on the back and a thank you.
Originally, the baskets were jointly sponsored by Noontime Kiwanis and the city: Kiwanis paid for the baskets, the city provided the maintenance.
During the last budget crisis, Kiwanis was asked to absorb the total cost.
Kiwanis does this by mounting a low-key fundraising campaign through direct mailings to businesses and individuals and occasionally an advertisement in the newspaper. Up until this last year, donations have been sufficient to satisfy the city’s bill to Noontime Kiwanis.
There is nothing unique about the role of Noontime Kiwanis in this project. Any organization could have done the same thing. Kiwanis partnered with the St. Paul Foundation so that any and all contributions are tax deductible and dedicated 100 percent to the Flower Basket Program.
What has been lost in recent years is the pride of ownership for the flower baskets by the citizens of Red Wing. True, to date, only about 3 percent of Red Wing citizens financially support the program, but we also receive donations from former residents and even visitors from all over the country.
Friends, these are not your tax dollars at work. If your donation funds are limited, please put your church, Meals on Wheels, Friends of the Sheldon, United Way, etc., ahead of the Flower Baskets.
But the next time you walk down a street on a sunny summer day and see a Scaveola Aemula Blue Wonder wink at you from the top of a flower basket, consider what a naked light pole would look like without them.
Rich Lyon is a member of Noontime Kiwanis and chairman of the Flower Basket Program.