By Jann Wiswall
Anyone who comes to Ellicottville in the spring, summer and early fall can’t help but notice the lovely barrels, hanging baskets and window boxes brimming with fresh and flowing flowers and plants up and down the village streets.
The group responsible for most of those flowers is known as the Alley Katz, and they need your help.
Every year, the village and the Ellicottville Chamber of Commerce provides funds for the purchase of plants and materials, but as the community has become more and more attached to the idea, more business owners are asking the Alley Katz to perk up their street corners and facades, as well.
“People have asked for barrels farther down (Route) 219 past Coffee Culture and Kwik Fill,” said Debbie Yantomasi, Alley Katz co-chair (with Pat Haynes). “We’d love to accommodate them, but as a non-profit organization, we only have so much to work with. Every year, we rely on donations in order to meet everyone’s requests.”
Yantomasi and Haynes have already begun ordering plants, baskets, soil and other materials for summer 2013. In addition, they organize a small army of volunteers to ready the soil, place the barrels, plant the thousands of flowers needed, and tend the plantings every Tuesday morning throughout the season.
It’s an organizational feat, to be sure, but it’s worth it.
“Everyone has a great time meeting people while doing something great for the community,” said Yantomasi. “And, to make it especially fun, volunteers meet up at Dina’s Restaurant afterwards where Dina (DiPasquale) treats us to coffee as her donation to the cause.”
This year, Alley Katz plans to hold “prep day” on May 21 to place and fill the barrels and get all the heavy work done.
“We need some big strong bodies to help on that day in particular,” she said.
June 4 is major planting day, with dozens of volunteers wielding gardening gloves and trowels descending on the village to plant and hang the flowers.
If you’re interested in lending a hand, Yantomasi encourages you to plan to attend these two big days this season at 9 a.m., and to “come and help out any old Tuesday you happen to be in town.”
But before that, please consider donating funds to this popular community effort. Tax-deductible donations may be sent to the Alley Katz, P.O. Box 1407, Ellicottville, N.Y. 14731.
For more information, contact Deb Yantomasi at (716) 803-3388.