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The baskets are back

by DEVIN WEEKS
Staff Writer | May 22, 2020 1:01 AM

Downtown Coeur d’Alene’s hanging floral accents are a tradition that beckons summer

COEUR d’ALENE — Every May, just before Memorial Day, enthusiastic volunteers and downtown workers rise with the sun to hang flower baskets throughout downtown Coeur d'Alene.

They scurry from street to sidewalk to bracket, placing the bunches of red, purple, pink and yellow petunias in their holders, where the flowers will emit their pleasant perfume until mid-October.

"It brightens the downtown, makes people feel good," said Coeur d'Alene Downtown Association manager Terry Cooper. "It's a real show of energy and love for downtown. It makes people happy."

About a dozen volunteers and a handful of Coeur d'Alene Resort and Downtown Association employees carried on this tradition Thursday morning, some donning yellow safety vests and climbing motorized lifts to install 170 baskets of the fragrant floral accents.

"It’s really fun,” said Jarrod McKee, owner of Aspen Nursery in Post Falls, which supplies the flower baskets. "And the community coming out too, for me that’s amazing. All these people are volunteers, out here to show support regardless of what’s going on. That means a lot to our town."

McKee said this is about the 11th year Aspen has provided the flowers. He and his son Haydn McKee jumped in the flower-filled Aspen truck and set the baskets at the edge for volunteers to transport to their new homes on street lamps above Sherman and Lakeside avenues and between First and Eighth streets.

This was Haydn's first time participating in the flower basket brigade.

“It’s really rewarding to see the efforts put into it and all the fruits of our efforts,” he said.

Duffer Vick, of Hayden, was happy to contribute to the morning as a first-time flower volunteer.

“We’re new in town. I was looking for ways to get involved in the community and I had emailed several people at the (Coeur d'Alene) Chamber and said, ‘Hey, I’m here! If you have anybody that needs volunteer help, I have quite a bit of experience,'" she said.

Cruising along on one of the lifts and placing baskets in brackets was Coeur d'Alene Resort President Bill Reagan, who has participated in this tradition since it started at least 20 years ago.

"I in fact was one of the originators that hung the brackets," he reminisced. "I love the flowers. It adds so much life to downtown. It means summer is here."

The flowers always go up the Thursday before Memorial Day. It's a $20,000 investment to buy them and keep them watered every day through the summer. The downtown business owners and others in the community usually cover the expense, but this year the Downtown Association is prepared to cover costs and is accepting donations since downtown businesses need a little help because of coronavirus closures.

"The downtown business people haven't been open," Cooper explained. "We are prepared to support it, but any other support would be so much appreciated."

Donations can be made at www.cdadowntown.com/flower-baskets or checks can be made to the Coeur d’Alene Downtown Association and mailed to 105 N. 1st Street, Suite 100, Coeur d'Alene, ID 83814.

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Volunteer Matt Widmyer carries a flower basket from the delivery truck to a sidewalk on Sherman Avenue before it’s installed in a hanging bracket Thursday morning.

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Colleen Grant of Coeur d’Alene grabs a basket of fragrant petunias Thursday morning. Volunteers helped hang 170 flower baskets throughout downtown Coeur d’Alene, a pre-Memorial Day tradition for the Coeur d’Alene Downtown Association.

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Hanging baskets of radiant reds, lovely lavenders and pretty purples are among the selections of petunias that will beautify downtown Coeur d'Alene this summer. The flowers were installed Thursday. (DEVIN WEEKS/Press)

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Coeur d'Alene Resort President Bill Reagan on Thursday morning continues the tradition of hanging the flower baskets that sweeten the air in downtown Coeur d'Alene from May to October each year. "It adds so much life to downtown," he said. "It means summer is here." (DEVIN WEEKS/Press)