Flowers coming, plus games of chance

Bayport-Blue Point Beautification Committee readies for hanging baskets

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The hardy cascading geraniums, vivid pink and red, practically wound their tendrils on the hands of the Bayport-Blue Point Chamber of Commerce officers and Beautification Committee members holding them. That’s how hardy they were.

It’s the fifth year Bayport Flower Houses owner Karl Auwaerter is supplying the chamber’s hanging baskets, said BBP Chamber president Carol Seitz.

The initiative started when the chamber began getting e-mails.

“I’m sick of seeing hanging baskets and flowers in Patchogue, then you drive through Blue Point and Bayport and there aren’t none, and then you see hanging baskets and flowers in Sayville,” said commenters.

Bada bing!  The chamber took heed.

And the baskets emerged five years ago. They’re now hung from People’s United Bank on Montauk Highway in Bayport to St. John’s Greek Orthodox Church in Blue Point, down Blue Point Avenue to Maple Street, and along the downtown area on Middle Road. The baskets, 136 of them on 68 poles, will emerge here as well as in front of Bayport Flower Houses itself a week before Memorial Day.

“We load them up on a truck on a designated night—my son, myself, and a couple of guys—and then we hang them,” explained Auwaerter. “It might be a little more complicated this year because flags have been added.”

But before that, there’s a whole process that takes place in the greenhouses as the plants unfurl and reach for the sun.

“We start growing them in January,” explained Auwaerter, “and they do get fertilizer.”

Strolling through this wonderland location of green things, which always includes a dog (including Petey, who tried to get into the photo), is a treat. Besides the popping color and variety, it’s not unusual to find a customer swaying to the piped-in music, including standards by Willie Nelson, Michael Bublé and others, all upbeat and gentle on the leaves.

Does it help the plants? “I think it does,” Auwaerter answered, looking at the happy array.

The basket-watering on the light poles is performed by Kevin Cusack, who rises at 1 a.m. to water these babies, three times a week. “At 1:30 a.m., he’s on the road. It’s the safest time of the night to get out there,” said Seitz of her husband. (Cusack also does Sayville’s baskets, the sweetie.)

Think about it. Cheery flowers are mood boosters. They also help draw customers to the area and represent the embodiment of beautiful Main Streets.

But it does cost money—$15,000 to be exact—for this graceful act.

The Beautification Committee offers sponsorships starting at $100 to $250 to help the transformation. But they were really excited about their debuting 100 Club, new and exclusive Main Street makeover games of chance. Membership is $100 payable by April 15. You join for nine months, April to December. Every month there will be three $50 winners; an additional $100 winner will be pulled every three months. Grand prizes are announced in December: a $1,000 winner, one $500 winner, and one $250 winner. (Check out the big sign outside at Bayport Flower Houses.)

Even if you win during the monthly drawings, you have a chance to win again on subsequent months. Woo! Hoo!

Janet Draffin and Nicole Butler co-chair the Beautification Committee. How did the 100 Club idea morph?

“Drew Baldwin, president-elect of Sayville Rotary, gave me the idea,” Draffin said. “We’d done raffles before, but he told me his parents’ church in New Hampshire had a similar club idea, so we thought we’d try it.” 

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