BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
MONTROSE – If you haven’t been out to the Lee County Conservation Center at Heron Bend in Montrose, it’s a site in full bloom and of a new world record.
More than 6,000 tulips are in bloom along two parallel “S” curves on the southwest corner of the property, the result of 1,484 volunteers who planted all the tulips in less than 3o minutes last fall, and on Tuesday a celebration will be held at the center to honor the individuals, volunteers, businesses, and industries that helped make the event possible. The celebration starts at 1 p.m.
Lee County Economic Development Group Chief Operating Officer Dennis Fraise, said he was notified by the Guinness Book of World Records staff that they had reviewed all the evidence, reduced the amount of people submitted by one person and recognized the new world record for “The most people planting flower bulbs simultaneously”.
Fraise said the documented old record was 850 set in 2014 by a group in the United Kingdom, however another group had sneaked in and beat that attempt just two weeks ago by having 1,293 people planting at the same time. He said that group out of Bentspils, Latvia had paid to have a Guinness on site for the attempt and the record was verified there, however, the LCEDG effort has brought enough people in to still surpass that goal by 191 and the website is currently being updated to reflect the local effort.
” I think it was about two weeks ago, that they verified it and lowered it by one, and they were going to update their records and website,” Fraise said Monday morning. “In the meantime, I got on their website and it showed that someone else set it higher. We still beat that number, I just found that interesting.”
A committee spearheaded by Fraise and LCEDG Marketing and Communications Manager Dana Millard set plans in motion in the summer of 2016 on a very short timeline and were able to bring more than 1,000 students and close to 500 other volunteers out to the property to plant the tulips that were purchased through donations from local industries and businesses in the county.
On Oct. 18, in less than 30 minutes, more than 6,000 tulips were planted. Fraise said it shows how Lee County can work together to accomplish great things.
“We’re gonna get everyone together. The tulips are blooming and about halfway through their life. We’re gonna have a brief ceremony just to acknowledge all the hard work, industry, volunteers. Cool thing to commemorate,” he said.
Another set of Blazing Star tulips will be blooming in the summer. Those tulips were donated by Pheasants Forever as part of a pollination program that helps benefit the environment and certain native species of butterflies.