It’s not your usual destination sell, and it’s not yet the Washington, D.C., Tidal Basin experience, but, remember, mighty oaks from tiny acorns grow. And although the trees that are planted as part of Tourism & Promotion’s Blossoms of Hope long-term marketing initiative are not oaks, they are making mighty progress toward helping Howard County capture its share of springtime attention.
The blossoming beautification effort with its strategic plantings along roadways, in parks and at visitor attractions countywide is gradually transforming Howard County’s spring landscape into a giant pink welcome sign.
With a pink carpet of blossoms that rolls out just as the mid-Atlantic tourist season opens, Howard County is being positioned as the perfect backdrop for recreational outings, family road trips, a picnic in the park or a tour of local attractions and events during April’s Cherrybration Days.
Pink Has Purpose
The “pink” tourism “project with a heart” continues to grow each year, offering its partners new marketing opportunities to help benefit the local economy.
It also is creating positive awareness for the local tourism industry via its charitable giving that helps individuals in the community who are facing cancer. Thanks to another successful year, Blossoms of Hope helped raise $35,000 for designated beneficiary Claudia Mayer Cancer Resource Center at Howard County General Hospital — a record amount that brings the total raised for the center via the project to $145,000.
The past year’s effort was bolstered by increases in both tree sales and participation in Cherrybration Days events. Planting efforts of significance were those undertaken by students and faculty of Manor Woods Elementary School and members of the Ellicott Meadows Community Association, who together planted more than 50 Kwanzan cherry trees to beautify their landscaping and give back to the community.
Greater participation in three popular Cherrybration Days events also added to the year’s fundraising numbers. The fourth annual Pretty-In-Pink Luncheon and Fashion Show, hosted by Turf Valley, as well as the second annual Hills of Milltown 5K Challenge, presented by the Ellicott City Business Association, doubled in attendance. And the Columbia Art Center Gallery’s second annual Cherrybration Days art show, “Blossoms for Claudia,” drew double the number of entries of last y ear.
Pink Goes Green
Blossoms of Hope turned pink to green in 2011 by introducing the “Cherokee Brave” pink dogwood as a new native species planting option for the program. More than 60 of the native species dogwoods were donated by the nonprofit to three local visitor attractions with the hopes that the pink display will provide additional awareness and marketing opportunities for the sites in the future. Visitors can look for the beautiful pink bracts of these new dogwood trees in early May at the Robinson Nature Center, the Howard County Conservancy and the Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park.
The new trees also can be purchased for residential plantings for $105. Like the $125 Kwanzan cherry tree, $50 of the purchase price is donated to Blossoms of Hope in support of the Claudia Mayer Center.
Pink Sweets, Eats & Treats
Pink partner Kupcakes & Ko. introduced a new Blossoms of Hope cupcake to its lineup of tasty sweets when the new gourmet cupcake bakery opened its doors in Elkridge this spring. Store owner Michele Kupiec has committed to carrying the pink confection as an in-store staple and will be giving a portion of sales back to the project.
For the fourth year straight, Howard County’s “Community Conscious” restaurants helped create awareness for the pink season in April with the addition of Pink Plate Specials to their menus. Twelve local restaurants participated in the “dine pink” promotion and contributed generously to this year’s efforts. An especially generous donation from The Iron Bridge Wine Co. that topped all previous giving levels is deserving of special recognition.
Clark’s Ellicott Farms and Terrapin Adventures treated their customers to pink-themed weekends in April. And, once again, golf enthusiasts were treated to a beautiful outing when Turf Valley (home of more than 50 Blossoms of Hope trees) presented the third annual Pink Greens Golf Classic.
Lanterns Light Up Main Street
Blossoms of Hope’s fifth annual Lanterns of Hope Parade enlisted the talent of local artist Cristina Kaputsos to help the community honor the Blossoms of Hope trees on National Arbor Day. Carrying whimsical paper sculptures of flowers, fish and swans, a record 300 people bearing glowing lanterns joined Princess Cherrybella as she made her way down the hillside from Ellicott City’s Patapsco Female Institute to Main Street.
The parade was greeted with enthusiasm by shop owners, visitors and motorists as it proceeded along the sidewalk to cross the Patapsco River, where rose petals representing wishes were cast on the waters by participants. Members of the Ellicott City Restoration Foundation lined the river’s shore with sparking luminaries to create an uplifting conclusion to the procession.
The annual luminary event is a grassroots community project that attracts and welcomes new involvement each year. This year, many Girl Scout troops, Centennial High School students and the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company joined in the lantern-making. Lantern workshops for the upcoming 2012 parade will begin in late February and early March.