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Huntington in Bloom Volunteers Prepare for Judges’ Visit
Judges will be looking at several criteria, including: overall impression, environmental efforts, heritage preservation, urban forestry, landscaped areas, and floral displays. Each participating community receives a “bloom rating”, or score, in each of the criteria. Winners are then selected among various population categories, with the winners moving up to the international competition.
Other awards include: a “Special Mention” recognizing a particularly noteworthy project, “Criteria Awards” recognizing the “best of the best” in each criteria, a “Community Champion” acknowledging the work of an individual who exemplifies community leadership, and an award for best YouTube video. The winners will be announced later this summer.
This year, Huntington is competing against Holland, Michigan, Dekalb, Illinois, and Winter Garden, Florida. “We are facing some very stiff competition”, said Tom Bell, organizer of Huntington in Bloom. “These cities have long-standing beautification efforts and are known for their community’s aesthetics”, he said. Holland, Michigan, for instance is known for its annual tulip festival and Winter Garden, Florida benefits from a 12 month growing season. Still, Bell likes Huntington’s chances. “We have a beautiful community, our teams have worked extremely hard, and our spirit of volunteerism is unmatched”, he said. “I think we’ll fair very well against these other towns. I expect Huntington to win”, Bell said.
Huntington in Bloom is spearheading the local beautification effort. Huntington in Bloom was organized in 2012 to focus and build on the volunteer efforts that have been going on in Huntington for years. Since early this year, hundreds of volunteers have assisted with projects, including planting flowers at Harris Riverfront Park and in downtown, painting the viaducts, removing graffiti, picking up litter, identifying and cataloging environmental and historical preservation efforts, and more. The volunteer efforts have been supported by the City, with city workers cleaning and mulching tree beds in the downtown area, assisting with street clean-up, and helping to maintain the floral plantings.
The group’s aspirations are more than just winning the competition. Huntington in Bloom organizers say that they will continue the work for years to come. Their long-term goals are to: improve the quality of life in Huntington, promote community involvement and unity, identify opportunities for improvement, and preserve Huntington's rich heritage by embracing its culture.
Huntington in Bloom is still seeking residents to assist with the efforts. “There are a few very easy things that everyone can do to help Huntington win”, Bell said. Huntington in Bloom organizers offered the following tips:
1. Everyone can pick up litter and pull weeds you see in front of your home or business, and on City streets and sidewalks
2. Residents can plant red, white, and blue flowers at their home and can be sure their lawn is well maintained
3. Businesses can place flower pots or window boxes featuring red, white, and blue flowers at their store entrance
For information about Huntington in Bloom, visit the organization’s website at www.huntingtoninbloom.com or Facebook page, www.facebook.com/huntingtoninbloom. To volunteer on any Huntington in Bloom project, go to www.unitedwevolunteer.org or www.huntingtoninbloom.com/get-involved.