Project Petunia set to bloom

By Natali Trivuncic
Staff Writer

It’s that time of year again when bright flower baskets line Kings Highway. Project Petunia is in its 20th year and is almost set to launch.

Sarah Marusyk, museum attendant and coordinator of Project Petunia, said they are near their goal of 50 baskets, adding that it is not too late to sponsor a flower basket.

The project was launched by the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce in 2001 and Rainy River Future Development Corporation (RRFDC) took over in 2016. The RRFDC worked with residents, local stakeholders and the Town of Fort Frances to continue beautifying the town by putting hanging baskets along the highway.

“It adds a pop of colour and life to that stretch of highway and it’s an extra way to add a little bit of beauty to the town,” Marusyk said.

Those in town could sponsor a basket in honor of loved ones that have passed, or to other people and places in the community.

“At least two of the sponsorships so far have been to either essential workers that have been our heroes throughout the pandemic and then another one was for all those folks who are isolated because of COVID-19,” Marusyk said. “It was a nice thing to see come forward from people.”

Marusyk said most of the sponsor do not have a problem with honorees of the baskets not being made public, adding that she has yet to examine other options for those who want to make it public.

“It’d be nice if there was something because the baskets themselves are so high up on the telephone pole,” Marusyk said. “We usually do an ad in the newspaper but I’m also looking at some sort of virtual tribute to the people they were purchased in honour of.”

The museum took over Project Petunia in January of this year with Marusyk facilitating it.

“The really cool thing about Project Petunia coming over to us is that it had a collection of the same people that tend to sponsor every year,” Marusyk said. “A lot of those people are continuing to sponsor baskets every year and who knows, it might evolve beyond what it is now as we get more comfortable with it.”

One basket costs $50. Marusyk said that just covers the cost of the basket and the upkeep by the town and installation by the Fort Frances Power Corporation is done in-kind.

Lowey’s Greenhouse and Market Garden supplied the baskets last year and are supplying them again this year.

Marusyk said she is grateful for the support of the community because it is the museums first year facilitating the project, adding that when taking on something new, it is never certain how it will be received.

Marusyk said the continued support of the project makes her optimistic that Project Petunia could spread to different parts of the town.

The flower baskets are set to be up by the first week of June and will be up all summer for everyone to admire.