By Tom Aldrich for the Missoula Downtown Association
Missoula’s beloved Downtown Flower Baskets will be installed this Thursday, May 14 beginning at 5:30 p.m. A total of 98 baskets will be moved from Pink Grizzly Greenhouse to the Central Park Parking Structure where a team of community volunteers and Downtown Missoula Partnership staff members will hang every basket throughout Downtown Missoula and Caras Park.
Many community partners assist with the installation. Pink Grizzly and owner Shane Clouse planted and maintained all 98 baskets for the last three months. The Missoula Parking Commission will contribute the use of their parking garage as a staging area. Roemer’s Tire Factory will lend a truck and staff for the installation, and several MDA members provide volunteers.
The Downtown Flower Basket program is one of many created and managed by the Missoula Downtown Association in its effort to make Downtown Missoula the most beautiful and welcoming place it can be. Other street décor programs managed by the MDA include the boulevard banner program, the American flags and the holiday décor.
The permanent all-black metal baskets that hold most of the flowers carry the mark of a famous artist. They were designed by Russell Smith, son of Russell Smith, Sr., after whom the Federal Courthouse is named. The metal barrels were constructed in 1981 and 1985. Each of the 70 baskets was individually designed and crafted with a unique theme. The remaining flower baskets hang directly from brackets that were installed in a 2010 expansion.
“The Flower Basket program adds to the distinctive atmosphere of Downtown Missoula. They are enjoyed by residents, businesses, and visitors alike. The program is one of many efforts the MDA puts forth every year to continue our mission of enhancing the vitality and beauty of Downtown,” says MDA Board President Heidi Starrett. “Last year, the flowers were more beautiful and lasted longer than ever before. We strive to exceed that benchmark in 2015.”
The MDA spends $11,000 on the Downtown Flower Baskets each year and uses membership dues to pay for those improvements.
For more information on the Downtown Flower Baskets, call Operations Coordinator Tom Aldrich in the Downtown Missoula Partnership office at 543-4238.