CLEVELAND — A local florist dedicated his time and talents to spread joy throughout Cleveland as everyone deals with the need to stay inside and keep a distance from one another during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Andrew Thomas, of Andrew Thomas Design, created a massive floral display at Edgewater Park with the goal to spread hope to those who are struggling during a time of uncertainty.
Thomas, who specializes in custom floral design, wanted to do some sort of public display for the community that was heartfelt and positive while having an interactive component that still followed the “social distancing” recommendation.
At the same time, Mayesh, who is the largest flower wholesaler in Northeast Ohio, had a significant amount of inventory on hand as they prepared to close through April.
So Thomas loaded up as many flowers as he could, approximately 5,000 stems, onto the bed of his pick up truck.
Working after dusk, plucking and arranging each flower with intent, Thomas created an 8-foot tall floral billboard at Edgewater Park.
At the base of the installation reads, “Individually, we are one flower. Together we are a beautiful garden,” — a message Thomas hopes reaches as many people as possible during this difficult time.
“Having flowers is a luxury for most people who think twice about having them even when the economy is good. I had all these flowers and thought this would be a great way to bring joy into as many homes as possible,” he said.
Every visitor is encouraged to take a flower or two home to remind them of better times ahead.
"I designed it so it's easy for visitors to grab flowers," Thomas said.
The Cleveland Metroparks, who operates the area where the display is located at, encourages visitors practice social distancing.
Spreading joy and hope through flowers is something that runs deep for Thomas, who, for as long as he can remember, has been surrounded by flowers and plants.
For generations, his family has been in the flower business, operating greenhouses and flower shops.
After he took a small hiatus from the world of flowers, Thomas went back to his roots after he realized he couldn't fight fate.
"I started doing weddings and realized this is what I'm meant to be doing," he said.
When told how Clevelanders could get used to public floral displays like this one, Thomas said this won't be the last one.
"I want everyone to know they can expect more displays popping up in the city after all of this [pandemic] is over with," Thomas said.