Bridge of Flowers 90th Anniversary Celebration
he Bridge of Flowers Committee is sponsoring a community-wide celebration to mark the 90th anniversary this year of the Bridge of Flowers (1929-2019).
The event gets underway at 1:30 p.m. at the Bridge with a parade of the children, led by the Shelburne Falls Military Band. The celebration continues from 2-4 at the Shelburne-Buckland Community Center.
The theme of the day’s events – “It Takes A Village” – pays tribute to all the volunteers that have for almost a century given their time and talents to keep the bridge blooming.
It all began in 1929, when a woman Antoinette Burnam looked out her kitchen window and saw weeds growing on what had once been a thriving trolley bridge, made obsolete by the advent of motorized vehicles. “If weeds can grow there, why not flowers?” she is said to have asked her husband. So she enlisted the aid of members of the Shelburne Falls Area Women’s Club – and with a grant of $1,000 from that club Antoinette and her fellow volunteers did the first planting.
That tradition is carried on today with members calling themselves the “Blossom Brigade,” volunteers who come twice a week to weed, deadhead plants, and sometimes help plant flowers under the direction of part-time head gardener Carol De Lorenzo and her assistant gardener Elliston Bingham.
Volunteers also serve on the Bridge of Flowers Committee, which meets monthly to oversee the day-to-day operations of the Bridge and plan fundraising projects such as the annual May plant sale.
Each year, the Bridge attracts thousands of visitors – from every state and from many countries in the world. In both a figurative and literal sense "the Bridge is the heart and engine of the towns of Buckland and Shelburne and surrounding communities as well,” says Annette Szpila, current chair of the Bridge of Flowers Committee. Visitors shop and have meals in local establishments, she points out, and return home to tell their friends and family they just have to “walk the Bridge of Flowers.”
The Bridge is currently being featured in an article in Yankee Magazine and is widely recognized as a model for a repurposed structure almost entirely supported by community effort.
The party is open to all residents of the towns of Buckland and Shelburne, which are joined by the Bridge, as well as surrounding communities.
Festivities get underway at the Bridge at 1:30 with a parade of children, led by members of the Shelburne Falls Military Band, who will walk to the Shelburne-Buckland Community Center. There, celebrants will enjoy a wide array of “sweet treats” baked by – you guessed it – volunteers – music played by two local musicians – an exhibition of works featuring the Bridge done by over a dozen local artists, a slide show with rare old photos of the Bridge and a chance to “Ask the Bridge Man,” engineer Brian Brenner, who is both a bridge buff and chief engineer for the firm Tighe and Bond. There will be Bridge of Flowers honey for sale (gathered by bees who populate the Bridge for nectar) and a table with information about the old trolley #10 that used to cross the Bridge and has now been restored and made operational again for rides during the summer and early fall.
Speakers will include State Senator Adam Hinds, who will read a proclamation from the Massachusetts Senate, and State Representative Natalie Blais.