Tavares, Florida - Judges Visit First-Time Participant

Tavares, Florida - Judges Visit First-Time Participant
By AIB Judge Sue Amatanglo

Many have used the saying planes, trains, and automobiles when describing their travel experiences from one destination to another.  But for the city of Tavares Florida, the judges used not only planes, trains, and automobiles to reach their destination; it also took trucks, boats, walking shoes, golf carts and seaplanes to experience every unique detail of this beautiful lakeside city.

Tavares, America’s Sea Plane City, is nestled in Central Florida just north of Orlando on Lake Dora. Daily flights surf their shores originating from FA1, the city’s designated seaplane base.
Although it took many modes of transportation to navigate this city of 14,583 residents, as a first year AIB participant, nothing moved the judges more on their tour than the pride that every person had in their community along with their contagious enthusiasm. Time and time again we were told of the excitement that America in Bloom has brought to their community and how they were able to accomplish things that they never thought they could. One of the most impressive was the Freedom Flag monument and circle.

Pride went much deeper than the pride they have for their community. Patriotism certainly runs deep in Tavares where donors from the community, along with other inspired citizens, pledged amounts ranging from a few dollars up to $3,000 to make a Veterans Memorial a reality. The goal was reached within a short period of time and the funds were used to erect a 60’ flagpole anchoring a high profile traffic circle centered in the county government campus. A commemorative granite donor monument, with the inscription “Freedom is Never Free”, was placed adjacent to the traffic circle recognizing the efforts of so many that contributed.

According to Traci Anderson, Tavares in Bloom Committee Chair and Landscape Specialist for the city, the judge’s visit was the catalyst they needed to gear up and plant up the Freedom Flag with perennials. She asked city staff to complete this project at the last minute (a week before the judges arrived). In just a week, they were able to get the needed PO’s, secure the plant material, pick it up and deliver everything to get the project done. But that wasn’t all. Before anything could be planted, there was a need to first remove masses of jasmine groundcover, a lot of poor soil and then bring in good soil to fill and raise the level of the garden. Working together as a team, within 6 hours the soil was all replaced and the area surrounding the flag was planted.

Just like each and every community that we have the pleasure to get to know, there are so many wonderful things to see, so many inspiring stories to tell and so many lasting experiences to share and for AIB judges, Laurie Potier-Brown and Sue Amatangelo - Tavares, Florida was no different.

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