Village Group's Mantra: 'Creeping Beauty'
With a charming, quaint New England feel, mature trees and a wide variety of plants and flowers, there is definitely a lot of truth to the greeting “It’s a beautiful day in Pinehurst.”
Truth be told, there are plenty of folks who work behind the scenes to make sure the saying rings true. And many of them are affiliated with the village’s Beautification Committee, a 19-member group that serves as an advisory committee to the Village Council for the purpose of enhancing the village center and surrounding neighborhoods.
“I think what we have done has been contagious,” said committee co-chair Bart O’Connor. “It has gotten others interested and brought our influence throughout the village.”
The commission also assists the village’s public services department in beautifying key intersections and street corners.
And while a lot of the committees’s sprucing efforts can be largely overlooked during the regular year, its efforts are clearly evident during the holidays; the beautification committee is responsible for all the holiday decorations in downtown Pinehurst.
This year, all the lampposts downtown with have a double-faced, 24-inch wreath. There will also be a cluster of slim artificial Christmas trees standing 61⁄2 feet to 9 feet tall at five locations downtown. Both additions are new this year.
“I am thrilled with what is going to happen at Christmastime,” said Martha O’Connor, co-chair of the committee. “I think it will bring the village alive with the Christmas spirit that maybe we haven’t had in the past.”
With Thanksgiving over, the Christmas tree and holiday lights will be installed. Then, on Nov. 30, the village will hold its tree lighting ceremony at 6:30 p.m. Leading up to the lighting, there will be a chance for pet photos to be taken at the tree from 1 to 3 p.m. Then, children can have their photos taken with Santa from 4 to 6 p.m..
The decorations will be taken down Jan. 2, and the hanging baskets featuring winter flowers will be put back up.
The committee came to be thanks to former Mayor George Lane, who in 2008 decided that he wanted the village to be more visually appealing to residents and visitors alike.
“It was really George Lane’s idea,” said former mayor and council member Virginia “Ginsey” Fallon. “He said, ‘I want to see baskets and planters,’ and when George had an idea, well, that’s it.”
Lane, who died in 2010, took his idea to council members Lorraine Tweed and Fallon, and told both they would be on the committee and that Tweed was going to be its chairman.
But they needed someone from the community with expertise to get the committee rolling. Enter the committee’s current co-chairmen, Bart and Nancy O’Connor.
Its mission was simple: Spruce up downtown. After it livened up downtown with some hanging flower baskets and planters in the village center, the committee was asked to decorate the village center for Christmas. Each year during the Christmas holidays it has tried to add more decorations.
Since its founding four years ago, the committee has grown in membership and increased the number of its projects.
Now the committee has 13 sub-committees and works closely with the local garden clubs, the state Department of Transportation, Pinehurst Resort and other village committees.
The group was instrumental in getting the replica statue of Donald Ross relocated to downtown. It has also worked with local garden clubs and village staff to plant flowers at various locations in the village.
Flower shops will even contact the committee to ask what type of flowers will be used in the baskets each season, so that those plants can be stocked at the businesses for residents who want to decorate their yards similarly.
The beautification committee has completed or is working on 16 projects around the village.
Bart O’Connor calls the committee’s work “creeping beauty.”
“Every year there is something new done,” he said.
But maybe his proudest achievement is that all the work is done through donations.
“From the beginning, I must tell you, the taxpayers have not paid for any of this,” Bart O’Connor said.
The money for all the work the committee has done — nearly $20,000 since it was founded — comes from local donations and wreath sales at Christmastime. The largest source of funding comes from the George Lane Fund, set up following Lane’s death. To donate to the fund, residents can contact Village Hall, at (910) 295-1900.
Martha O’Connor said she thinks Lane would be proud of the work the committee has done, and would be excited for the future.
“I think he’s looking down (from heaven) and saying, ‘OK, O’Connors. what are you and the committee going to do next?’”
Contact Tom Embrey at (910) 693-2484 or tembrey@thepilot. com.
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