Celebrating nabe’s official flower

With the recent cold temps it might not feel like spring is really here. However, as cherry and apple blossom trees start to bloom and with milder spring days ahead, it would be a good time to consider planting or cultivating Bay Ridge’s official floral emblem, the hydrangea.

Actually, very few communities can boast like Bay Ridge that they have an officially designated flower since 2006! Here’s some history about formally christened and celebrated flowers.

On Nov. 20, 1986, President Ronald Reagan signed a proclamation certifying the rose as the national floral emblem. However, long before that time, in 1891, New York State schoolchildren participated in a state-sponsored poll with their winning choice, the rose. Nonetheless, it took the State Legislature until 1955 to make it official. The passed measure passed read, “The rose shall be the official flower of the state in any color or combination of colors common to it.”

Ronald Reagan. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Prior to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration, the rose was also known as the city’s official flower. That changed when Bloomberg signed a proclamation on April 20, 2007 giving official status to the daffodil. Since the horrendous attacks on the World Trade Center, the daffodil has become the flower of choice at many 9/11 memorial tributes. The forsythia became Brooklyn’s celebrated flower by a proclamation signed by Borough President John Cashmore on March 18, 1940.

The forsythia has been Brooklyn’s official flower since 1940. Photo courtesy of Facebook

During the celebration of the Bay Ridge Sesquicentennial, the planning committee decided to pick a formal flower symbol for Bay Ridge. With the joint cooperation of the Garden Club of Bay Ridge and the then eight-day Festival of the Arts, flowers were selected and put on display in the parish hall of Good Shepherd Church on Fourth Avenue. This gave festival-goers the opportunity to vote for their favorite.

The rose was named the national flower in 1986 and has been New York State’s flower since 1955. Photo courtesy of Facebook

The “candidates” were camellia, hydrangea, pansy, tulip, violet and yellow rose. When the votes were counted, the overwhelming choice of the hydrangea was conveyed to then-Borough President Marty Markowitz, who signed a proclamation on Aug. 22, 2006.

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz designated the hydrangea as Bay Ridge’s offical flower

Decked out in a flowery Hawaiian shirt and khakis, he brought the large proclamation over to the late Rosemarie O’Keefe’s recently restored historic Victorian mansion on 81st Street. Standing in front of a large, beautiful hydrangea in her backyard, and with a host of elected officials, he announced and presented the proclamation. City Councilman Vincent Gentile said, “It’s a small-town activity in a big city. This could be a morning in Kansas.”


We again joined the thousands of Christian believers for the annual Good Friday Way of the Cross Procession over the Brooklyn Bridge on March 29.

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